Wednesday 21 March 2018

Sweden not a one-man team - Jeff Hendrick

Jeff Hendrick:
Jeff Hendrick: "They are a good team. Every team in the tournament is good." Picture: Sportsfile
Aidan Fitzmaurice

Aidan Fitzmaurice

The Swedish journalist who presses Jeff Hendrick to put names to the players in the Swedish squad he admires, apart from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, goes home disappointed.

Swedish names like Erkin Zengin and Oscar Hiljemark don't spring from the lips of Dubliner with the ease attached to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's fame but Hendrick still feels it would be a mistake to label Monday's opponents in Paris as a one-man team.

"They are a good team. Every team in the tournament is good," says Hendrick of Sweden.

"They have proven themselves over 12 games, they have proven that they deserve to be here. So it will be a tough game but every game in the tournament will be tough.

"We have watched them and we will keep watching them to make sure we know more and more about them and that we are ready for the game," added the Derby County man, who is in the frame to start in the Stade de France.

So, who do they have worth noting apart from the Paris St Germain phenomenon?

"Ten other players," Hendrick says. "He (Zlatan) is a great player, he's world class, everyone knows that. But it wasn't just him who got them there. There are ten other players on the pitch who worked hard and scored important goals for them.

"There are a few who impressed. I don't need to name them, all the players, but we watched the video and there are a few good players.

"A few of them we know from England, and a few more that we need to get to know more."

If Hendrick and his Derby team-mate Richard Keogh start on Monday, Ireland will have two members of their starting XI who have never played in the Champions League, Europa League, Premier League or any other level of top-flight football, bar a brief spell in Iceland for Keogh, but that's not an issue, only a challenge, for Hendrick.

"We've got a lot of players who play in the Championship. Throughout the qualifiers we've had to prove ourselves and let people know that we can be out there on the same pitch as people who play in the Premiership," he said.

"So hopefully we can do the same again in this tournament."

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