Monday 23 April 2018

Hourihane's big ambitions after 'career highlight'

Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa scores his second for Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Norwich City at Villa Park. Photo: Getty Images
Conor Hourihane of Aston Villa scores his second for Aston Villa during the Sky Bet Championship match between Aston Villa and Norwich City at Villa Park. Photo: Getty Images
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Conor Hourihane has targeted a double-figure return from midfield this season after he bagged a hat-trick against Norwich on Saturday.

The Corkman initially found it hard to make an impact at Aston Villa after his January move from Barnsley but he found his range in a badly-needed win for Steve Bruce's side to add to a goal against Reading earlier in the week.

"I was in and out of the team and missed a few chances last season but over the summer I took some time out to relax and take in the whole move," said the 25-year-old.

"I just said, pre-season, I'm going for it. I aimed to work even harder and I'm a big believer that if you work hard you get your rewards.

"It's unusual for a midfielder to score four in two games. That gives you that good belief that you are able to score goals for this football club. Now the aim for me is to get double figures.

"When I go out there and do what I did on Saturday it makes all the effort worthwhile. It's my favourite moment by a long way."

Meanwhile, West Ham veteran Pablo Zabaleta has showered praise on Irish newcomer Declan Rice. The teenager impressed in his first full Premier League start against Southampton on Saturday.

England-born Rice (18) already has experience with the Irish senior squad after being invited to May's training camp in Cork.

"To be honest, I love him," Zabaleta said. "He's young but he has got that personality that you need to play with the first team."

Irish Independent

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