Hendrick eager to catch eye of idol Keane
IT'S not that long ago since Jeff Hendrick was courting Roy Keane for his autograph yet tomorrow the Ireland U-21 midfielder gets to audition in front of his hero.
Ireland's assistant manager yesterday sounded more upbeat about the future of the Irish team than his boss Martin O'Neill, an assertion which requires the likes of Hendrick to realise their raw potential.
Having to demonstrate his ability for the time being at U-21 rather than senior level doesn't perturb the Derby County midfielder one jot.
That one of O'Neill or Keane is likely to be in attendance at Tallaght Stadium for tomorrow afternoon's U-21 UEFA qualifier against Montenegro, just hours before senior duty, is an acceptable compromise in the eyes of the four-times capped Dubliner.
"I missed three months of the season due to injury, so I still need games to be fully match-fit," reasoned Hendrick for his full squad snub by O'Neill and Keane.
"If I was with the senior team, it would be great to be in and around the training and learn more off the senior lads in the squad.
"This is a chance to get another game as well as try helping the U-21s beat Montenegro in a must-win game. I have no problem being with the U-21s."
However, working alongside Keane to learn in the way fellow midfielder James McCarthy is remains the ultimate aim.
"Ask most kids who they looked up to when growing up, and it was Roy Keane," said the Coolock native.
"It was especially so in my case from playing in the same position as well as the fact that I supported Manchester United as a kid.
"I was on trial at Manchester United at 13 and he (Keane) was a player there at the time.
"I'm sure he doesn't remember shaking my hand because all the trial players got a handshake from him.
"All of the lads in the senior Ireland squad I know say they've got some great advice off him and hopefully I can too in the future."