Friday 28 October 2016

Republic of Ireland's Jeff Hendrick refuses to rest on Euro 2016 laurels

Published 04/09/2016 | 19:26

Jeff Hendrick (centre) wants to prove himself at international level and in the Premier League.
Jeff Hendrick (centre) wants to prove himself at international level and in the Premier League.

Jeff Hendrick is refusing to live off his Euro 2016 memories with the Republic of Ireland as he attempts to take his career to the next level.

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The 24-year-old midfielder will head into World Cup qualifying battle in Serbia on Monday evening as a Burnley player having secured a big-money move from Derby to Turf Moor as the transfer window drew to a close.

He did so having enhanced his reputation during the summer with his performances for Ireland in France - but he is not about to stand still now.

Hendrick said: "I can take confidence from it, definitely, but it's wiped clean a little bit because it's a new group, a new challenge. I will take the confidence in and try and perform even better.

"It was great. It was what I dreamt of as a kid, to play in a tournament like that. I got a bit of down-time after, and then straight back into the hard work - and that's what I have got to continue doing, working hard.

"Now I've got a new club, I probably need to work harder as well."

National boss Martin O'Neill, who has seen Hendrick emerge as one member of what he hopes will be a new generation of leaders, 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.

O'Neill said: "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.

"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."

It has been a whirlwind few days for Hendrick, who was given permission to leave the Republic camp last week as Burnley formalised their interest in him, but was back in time to play as a half-time substitute in Wednesday night's 4-0 friendly victory over Oman in Dublin.

Hendrick said: "Obviously I'm delighted I got the move. I was waiting a few weeks for it to get done. After the summer I had, I wanted a crack at the Premier League and I'm happy it's done.

"But as the boss said, my main focus is the game tomorrow night. They are exciting times, but I've got to focus on the game tomorrow."

In the longer term, Hendrick faces the task of establishing himself as a Premier League regular, and addressing Ireland's assistant manager Roy Keane's belief that he should score more goals.

He said: "I accept it. I go into games trying to play my best and I do want to score goals. I have scored goals in the past and it's a great feeling to have. It's something I'm working on and hopefully I can get more."

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