O’Neill urges Hen­drick to re­gain his old form for club and coun­try

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Sport - - SOCCER - JOHN FAL­LON

IRE­LAND man­ager Martin O’Neill has called on Jeff Hen­drick to do more in games for his club and coun­try as the mid­fielder en­dures the most dif­fi­cult patch of his Pre­mier League ca­reer. While his Burn­ley side are fly­ing high this sea­son, Sean Dy­che’s team on course to achieve their high­est fin­ish in the Pre­mier League era and qual­ify for Europe next sea­son, their Ir­ish play­maker has only had a pe­riph­eral role. The Coolock na­tive, who ar­rived from Derby County at the start of last sea­son for €12m, has been dropped by the Clarets since start­ing last on March 10.

The 26-year-old’s con­tri­bu­tion to the World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign, by the stan­dards he set in lead­ing Ire­land to the knock­out stages of the Eu­ros, was also a dis­ap­point­ment. His con­tri­bu­tion to set­ting up James Mc­Clean’s win­ner in Wales will be re­mem­bered more fondly than his un­der­whelm­ing dis­plays in the two legs of the play-off against Den­mark.

Hen­drick had started the cam­paign on such a bright note, break­ing his 27-game duck to fire in his first se­nior in­ter­na­tional goal away to Ser­bia in the opener. If that sug­gested the Dubliner was about to use the Euro fi­nals in France a few months ear­lier as a spring­board, then it didn’t work out that way. Adding goals to his game — he hasn’t scored since for Ire­land and hit the net only twice in each of his sea­sons at Burn­ley — is es­sen­tial if Hen­drick is to thrive in the po­si­tion he’s mostly de­ployed for club and coun­try. O’Neill has de­manded an im­prove­ment and be­lieves the player him­self is fully aware that there’s a lot more to give.

“Some­times, from my own view­point, Jeff had the abil­ity to do more in matches,” con­tended his Ire­land man­ager. “I think Jeff has to now go and kick on. It’s been a great sea­son for Burn­ley, and not too bad for Jeff, but some­times I think Jeff feels he can do more. If you’re left as that player off the striker, as Jeff can be in that rov­ing role, then you’ve got to be mak­ing goals and scor­ing a few as well. Jeff is a ma­jor player for us and we need those play­ers do­ing more to turn the tide of matches.”

In mit­i­ga­tion, O’Neill was ex­pect­ing a soft land­ing for Hen­drick fol­low­ing the ex­hil­a­ra­tions of the Eu­ros. Ditto Rob­bie Brady, his child­hood pal who joined him at Burn­ley in the next trans­fer win­dow on another multi-mil­lion-pound deal that smashed the club’s trans­fer record. Brady’s sea­son was ended by a se­ri­ous in­jury but the hang­over from France can only par­tially be cul­pa­ble for Hen­drick’s strug­gles.

“Rob­bie and Jeff had won­der­ful tour­na­ments at the Eu­ros but as pre­sea­son comes im­me­di­ately, you can­not be phys­i­cally or men­tally pre­pared for it,” O’Neill opined. Hen­drick will be in­cluded in an en­larged on Thurs­day for the up­com­ing friendlies. An ex­per­i­men­tal panel will be cho­sen for the Scott Brown tes­ti­mo­nial against Celtic on May 20 but there will be a fa­mil­iar squad for the matches and France and the USA.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.