Sunday 22 October 2017

Brady can take step forward at Burnley

New Burnley signing Robbie Brady. Photo: Sportsfile
New Burnley signing Robbie Brady. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

The presence of long-time pal Jeff Hendrick in the Burnley dressing room should make Robbie Brady feel at home with his new club.

But it's their position in the league table that can really offer the Dubliner stability at this stage of his working life.

Strong home form means that Burnley should be well clear of relegation trouble when the Premier League campaign reaches its climax. This means that, for the first time in his career, the 25-year-old is set for a long unbroken run to really establish himself in the top flight.

Back-to-back relegations with Hull and Norwich have resulted in turbulence for the talented ex-Manchester United trainee at a vital point in his development.

Surviving

Burnley remain a modest club in Premier League terms and the reality is that surviving at that level is likely to be their focus at the start of next term regardless of where they finish up this year.

Still, they are a good fit for Brady at this stage of his journey, and his decision to pick them ahead of Sunderland is a wise one. David Moyes' employers might be a bigger operation, yet they are on a slippery slope downwards.

And he really cannot afford to make another move that appears to be a step forward but ends up eventually bringing him two back.

He does have a point to prove in his new environment. Norwich followers would argue that Ireland fans have seen the best of Brady over the past 12 months. The Irish star of Euro 2016 - along with Hendrick - failed to bring that French form into the Championship campaign with the Canaries.

They have toiled in a disappointing campaign and Brady's form has suffered. He has primarily featured at left-back, a role that still does not come naturally to him, and criticism has moreso trained on defensive difficulties.

It will be interesting to see where he slots in at his new abode. After all, the Irish presence goes beyond his old St Kevin's Boys team-mate Hendrick.

Stephen Ward's resurgence over the past 12 months has been extremely impressive and that could have positive implications for Brady with both club and country.

Ward would have been alarmed by a link with Hull's Andy Robertson, but there could be room for both left-sided Irishmen in the same team.

A player with Brady's technical ability and eye for goal should really be operating higher up the park and his switch to midfield during the Euros - with Martin O'Neill bringing in Ward at left-back - was the catalyst for his key role in that special night in Lille. Burnley do have some creative performers, with Belgian Steven Defour an excellent addition, yet they don't quite have a player like Brady.

And it could be significant that Sean Dyche stepped up his interest in the player after losing out on Robert Snodgrass to West Ham - the Scot is a versatile operator with an excellent left foot.

Clearly, he felt that his squad required a player in that bracket and given that his other signing yesterday, Ashley Westwood, does not meet those criteria then it would appear that Brady will get the opportunity to tick that box.

That would confirm this transfer as an encouraging switch in the right direction.

Irish Independent

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