SOUTHEND United midfielder Dru Yearwood was watched by Queens Park Rangers’ director of football Les Ferdinand at Roots Hall on Saturday.

The former England international watched Blues’ 4-2 defeat against Barnsley from the directors box in a game which saw Yearwood produce a below par display.

But Blues boss Chris Powell is certain the 18-year-old will soon be back to his best.

“Dru’s a very, very good young player who will develop and get better over time,” said the Shrimpers chief.

“But he’ s a young man and he hasn’t really played a lot of football.

“There’s a lot of big noise and big expectation around him though.

“He had a good season last year but it ended with a tough, difficult injury.

“It took him a while to get over it and when we got him back up to speed he had another knock.

“But he’s just got to live the life as a footballer.

“You have your ups and downs and periods of good form and periods when you’re not on it.

“But he’s fine and he will get looked after by me, the staff and this football club.”

Yearwood, who came through the youth ranks at Roots Hall, has now made 42 appearances for the first team and continues to be linked with a number of a clubs at a higher level.

Crystal Palace are among those keeping tabs on the young midfielder while Middlesbrough and Millwall are also believed to be tracking his progress.

Lions boss Neil Harris and first team coach Adam Barrett have been at Roots Hall to watch the Shrimpers in action this season while Ferdinand did likewise at the weekend.

QPR - who are 11th in the Championship - are currently under a transfer embargo which means they can only sign players under the age of 23 during the January transfer window.

But those making a move to Loftus Road would not be allowed to line up for Steve McClaren’s side until next season, meaning Yearwood could well be loaned back to Blues if he made the move to west London.

However, Powell was not keen to dwell on Yearwood’s future.

“Dru is a Southend United player and he will grow and develop as we go on,” said the 49-year-old.

“Whatever happens in the future happens.”

Yearwood is contracted to Blues until the summer of 2021.