Little rest for Dubliner Jeff Hendrick after disappointment of Scotland draw
IT'S not quite the same as Christmas being cancelled.
But the summer holidays for Jeff Hendrick will be very short ones this year. His season only finished up last Saturday, when he started in Ireland's 1-1 Euro 2016 qualifying draw with Scotland, but he has just two weeks off as new Derby County boss Paul Clement wants his players back in for pre-season training on Monday week.
Derby fans could argue that an early summons back from the beaches of Europe is just punishment for a Rams side which quickly ran out of legs in the promotion race last season.
But Hendrick is already planning ahead for next term and the chance of redemption after a disappointing end to the 2014/15 season with club and country.
"Yeah, it was a flat finish to the season, with Ireland and with the club. The season didn't go our way at all with Derby, we have just to put things right next year," Hendrick told The Herald.
"So we're back in early for pre-season, the manager wants us back on the 29th of this month, I will just put my feet up for two weeks now and get ready to go again, it's a short summer holiday ok but I don't mind, I am here to play football and I just want to get going again after a bit of a break."
With a 12-week wait until the next bout of qualifiers, the Irish squad have a lot of time on their hands to mull over what happened in Dublin last Saturday as that 1-0 lead and a possible three points were both surrendered to the Scots.
A playoff place is now the ambitious aim for this Irish side but Hendrick, handed an unexpected start against the Scots, is adamant that Ireland's race is not yet run.
"I don't think we are out of it yet, we have to dig deep, see what we can do in the next two games - where we need two wins - and see how we are shaping up in October. I don't think we can start to think about the Germany and Poland games, we have to look to the September matches, do the job there and see where we go from there," he says.
"Anyone can beat anyone on their day. We don't expect Poland and Germany to drop points but anything can happen, we just have to keep our belief and make sure we are still fighting for qualification at the end.
"Looking back now I think we started the Scotland game ok, we created chances and were on the front foot.
"We knew it would be tough in the second half and we had to hold on to that lead but we conceded so early and couldn't get back into the lead. At the end of the game we were putting a lot of pressure on the Scots but just couldn't kick the goal."
While Daryl Murphy's selection in the XI caught a few off guard, few predicted that Hendrick would get into the starting team, especially as he had under-performed away to the Scots. "I'm happy to get picked and it was a sign that the manager trusts me," he says.
"I had worked hard, in training no one knows, really, who is going to play. There are a lot of changes during training and everyone has to get used to their positions.
"I only found out on the day of the game, when we got to the dressing room, that I was playing. We had worked on things during the week but you're kept on your toes and only told on the day so then you have to get your head ready for the game.
"The manager gave us instructions of what he wanted from us and I feel it worked well, at the start anyway.
"We did cause them problems, with the full backs we have, they can bomb on and we are a bit narrower in the middle, it worked well to me but just not enough to get the win, now we just go again in September."