Chris Willock has scored more goals this season than he had in his 52 appearances in the second tier prior to the 2021/22 campaign.
The 23-year-old has been steadily improving since leaving Benfica B for a loan spell at Huddersfield Town in January 2020.
Willock, now in his second season at Queens Park Rangers is fast becoming one of the most feared attacking midfielders in the Championship.
The Arsenal academy graduate put his improvement down to coaches and team-mates at QPR when he spoke to The Athletic.
Willock explained: “The coaching staff are always encouraging me to express myself. A player like me, that’s what I need to be told – to express myself in the final third… while not forgetting my defensive duties. Just to enjoy it and play free, that’s when you’re happiest.
“Charlie Austin is in my ear all the time telling me to get my shot off early! Sometimes I would always go to beat another player or pass it, when I could have shot. This season I’m trying to do that (shoot) more and you can see that from the goals I’m scoring.”
Rangers had previously been a touch over-reliant on the creativity of Ilias Chair in the final third, Willock’s performances this season have enabled the West Londoners to build a promotion push off of the form of Mark Warburton’s mobile number tens.
Quiz: Can you name which club QPR signed these 20 strikers from?
Rangers are in a strong position on this one, the club look destined to finish in the top six this season and they have an option to extend Willock’s contract by a further year at the end of the 2022/23 campaign. It feels like the 23-year-old will be applying his trade in the Premier League soon and that opportunity could come to fruition with QPR this term.
One very positive thing to draw from Willock’s words is that he also mentioned the crucial defensive work that he has to put in for the team. Too many attacking players neglect those responsibilities to the detriment of the rest of the team and as the games come thick and fast it is crucial to keep that sense of unity, that every player is contributing to all facets of a performance. Mark Warburton deserves immense credit for the leap that Willock has made this term.