Mark Warburton believes QPR goalkeeper Seny Dieng has what it takes to one day play at the highest level.
The 26-year-old, who joined Rangers in 2016 from German side MSV Duisburg after goalkeeping coach Gavin Ward persuaded him to not sign for Barnsley following a successful trial at Oakwell, has clocked up eight clean sheets in 28 appearances and been a consistent presence between the sticks.
His emergence follows a nomadic spell that saw him loaned out to Isthmian League side Whitehawk, Stevenage in League Two and Dundee, before joining Doncaster on a season-long deal for the 2019/20 campaign.
Warburton said it was during that spell at Rovers where he demonstrated to the Rangers coaching staff they had a special talent on their hands.
And after a poor performance by Joe Lumley in a 3-2 defeat at Coventry in the second game of the season, he had no hesitation throwing Dieng in.
“He had a terrific loan spell at Doncaster,” said Warburton.
“We obviously watched him there. We spoke a lot to (Doncaster manager) Darren (Moore) as to how he was performing and Gavin Ward was in close contact with him.
“His stats there were the highest in the league.”
Upon his return to London, Dieng told Warburton he felt he was the best goalkeeper at the club and should be number one.
“Seny is a very confident guy – not arrogant but confident and he made his thoughts very clear to me,” said Warburton.
“I said to him ‘You have two excellent goalkeepers in Liam (Kelly) and Joe Lumley (in front of you)’ and we were spoilt for choice having three top keepers vying for the jersey.
“But when Seny got into the side he made his claim very strongly.
“You can see in his distribution, his shot stopping, he is an outstanding goalkeeper.
“He is still young and his best years are ahead of him.”
Dieng’s displays have been a huge factor in Rangers’ much-improved defensive performances this season and Warburton said his presence has given huge confidence to the whole team.
“The (improved) defence is not all down to him, it is down to the defence working hard,” he said.
“But you saw against Preston, the way he came for balls he was very confident, showed good handling and there is no doubt that is reassuring for the defensive side of the team.
“When you hear ‘Seny’s ball’ you know he is going to collect it and that is very comforting.”
Rangers handed Dieng a new four-year deal earlier this season and with Lumley likely to leave when his contract runs out in June and Kelly keen to make his loan move to Motherwell permanent, Warburton said it was important to plan for the future in the goalkeeping department.
“There is no doubt Seny has all the attributes to go to the very highest level. That is not said loosely, because that position is so important, but he has so many qualities,” Warburton said.
“We have Dillon Barnes also out on loan at the moment and he is a talented goalkeeper. We also signed young Joe Walsh, who is only 18, from Gillingham.
“You have to have a succession line going through.”