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Murray making a name for himself at Vicarage Road


WHEN you are name-checked by two managers of the senior Ireland team, you are clearly doing something right.

And it's no wonder that there is something of a buzz around Watford from Ireland U21 cap Seán Murray as he seeks to take the next step on the international ladder.

This week, his focus is very much on U21 duties as Murray is in line to win his 10th cap at U21 level in tomorrow's European Championship qualifier against Montenegro at Tallaght Stadium (3pm), a match which manager Noel King admits his side have to win to have any chance of qualification for the Euro finals. Irish hopes are boosted by the sight of senior international Jeff Hendrick, back in the U21 panel for the first time in 18 months.

But there is also a sense of the bigger picture with Murray (right), as the Watford man, still only 20, is widely regarded as the next player to come off the production line manned by King. When he was in temporary charge of the senior team for the games against Germany and Kazakhstan, King said he considered a call-up for Murray. Martin O'Neill made his way to Vicarage Road last weekend, mainly to see Murray line out – and impress – in Watford's 4-0 win over a sorry Blackpool side containing senior caps Andy Keogh and Kevin Foley.

"The fact that Martin O'Neill even knows who I am is good news and a nice boost to the confidence for me," Murray told the Herald.

"I have heard that Martin O'Neill has been to a few of our games with Watford. It's amazing to hear that, and this U21 game tomorrow is a chance for me to prove myself again.

"It seems to be different with the Ireland set-up now as Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane are going to see a lot of games in the Championship.

"That's probably because there aren't as many Irish players in the Premier League now, but the standard in the Championship has gone up a lot in the last year or two – there are some very good quality players in the Championship.

"Like all of the players in this U21 squad, I am keen to progress and get on with my career and it's nice to know that the senior team manager is aware of you," he said.

At club level, Murray has, at times, fallen victim to a squad rotation policy at Watford, with 10 sub appearances on top of his 18 starts in the Championship, but that suits the lad who made his Watford debut when he was 17.

"I am playing regularly and that's the main thing," he says.

"You have a lot of games in the Championship and I don't always start. Sometimes I am rested for the Tuesday game if we played on a Saturday, but I am pleased with how the season is going and I am giving a good account of myself."

He added: "This game tomorrow is a big deal for me, I want to do well with Ireland and try to get to the Euro finals. We have a big task ahead of us as we need to beat Montenegro tomorrow – a draw is no good – and then win in Germany in September, but we all want to do well for our country."