Upwardly mobile Hendrick ready for his moment to shine
Published 05/09/2016 | 02:30
If Euro 2016 was the occasion when Jeff Hendrick established his blossoming potential, this autumn may be the time for the 24-year-old Dubliner to confirm lasting credentials.
Now officially Ireland's fifth most expensive player of all time - admittedly a financially warped list - the new Burnley man has been challenged by Roy Keane, amongst others, to add more to his already impressive game.
His midweek move was complicated by initial interest from Hull City but their chaotic situation allowed Sean Dyche to step in and secure the ex-Derby man, who will win his 27th cap in Belgrade this evening.
This is, indeed, his moment to shine amongst a team where several leaders have emerged as if at once.
"I'm delighted I got the move. I was waiting a few weeks to get it down. But my main focus is this game," he said.
"The Euros were great. It was what I dreamt of as a kid to play in a tournament. Certainly I can take confidence from it, definitely.
"But the slate is wiped clean a little bit because it's a new group, a new challenge.
I've played some good games internationally."
Keane, Ireland's assistant manager, has tasked Hendrick (pictured) to be more ruthless in front of goal; a less than one in eight ratio at club level is positively prolific compared to the blank he has drawn for his country thus far since his debut in 2013.
"I accept it," he says of Keane's latest hurry-up. "I go into games and I'm trying to play my best and I do try to score, I've scored goals in the past. It's something I'm working on and hopefully I can get more."
Martin O'Neill is confident he has what it takes to make it in the Premier League, but has ordered him to forget about that for a few days yet.
"It's a good move for Jeff, it's Premier League football for him and I'm sure he is very, very excited by it," the Ireland manager said.
"I want him, obviously, to leave that to the side now. He got the deal through before the deadline and now it's total concentration on this game here for tomorrow.
"But overall, I think Jeff should prove himself in the Premier League."