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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Jeff's ready to roll in Vienna

In-form Clarets ace Hendrick back in fold after suspension

Jeff Hendrick is seeking to bring his fine form in the Premier League with Burnley back to the Ireland fold for Saturday’s crunch World Cup qualifier with Austria in Vienna. Photo: Sportsfile
Jeff Hendrick is seeking to bring his fine form in the Premier League with Burnley back to the Ireland fold for Saturday’s crunch World Cup qualifier with Austria in Vienna. Photo: Sportsfile

Jeff Hendrick jokes that he felt like a kid who had won a competition to go and watch Ireland play when the midfielder travelled to Moldova for last month's qualifier, Hendrick unable to play any part due to suspension.

But it's down to the deadly serious work of World Cup qualification this week, the Burnley man certain to feature for Martin O'Neill's outfit in Vienna on Saturday and Hendrick feels that this is the ideal chance for Ireland to take another big step towards Russia 2018, despite Austria's impressive home record.

"I think we're doing well in the group. We've picked up some good results. As you see, everyone will take points off each other in this group," says Hendrick, who trained with the Republic's squad in Dublin today for the first time.

"We've just got to keep plugging away. It's going to be a big game on Saturday.

"I don't think Austria have lost at home for a long time. We'll have to have to our game plan, we'll watch them, we'll do our homework on them and we'll be looking to get a result and that's what we'll be looking to do," added Hendrick.

Yellow cards forced him to sit out the trip to Chisinau last month but suspension didn't prevent him from heading over to Moldova with the squad as a non-playing member of the panel.

"The manager asked me if I wanted to come and the option was there. He wanted me to come and I was happy to go - to still be around the lads was great," says Hendrick.

"I have a good laugh with them when we're around the hotel and all. It did feel like I'd won a competition: as in, I got a bit of spa treatment, got to see the stadium with the team, have dinner with the team, it was like I was a competition winner," he joked.

"I always enjoy meeting up with the team, being around the lads to get that chance to go away with them. I was happy enough to go away with them.

"I've settled in at Burnley, I've had time to settle in there and that's fine. When I'm away with Ireland, I'm fully focused on Ireland. And we've got a hard group and a hard task ahead but we're all in it together and that's the way it should be. I've got designated time with Ireland and I'm going to stay for the whole time."

Now a Premier League player since that summer move from Derby County, Hendrick has settled in well at Turf Moor, the Clarets up to ninth in the Premier League table with Sean Dyche's side unbeaten in three.

For Hendrick, the mood around Burnley is similar to that of his national team, a side working away without the burden of demands.

"Outside people don't expect much but you've got to have expectations amongst yourselves. People don't expect much from you but you have your own goals and your own expectations and once you stick to them, it doesn't matter what people outside think. That's the main thing," he explains.

"It's been great, I've been enjoying it. I've settled in, the lads have been great me with, the manager is playing me and shown faith in me really. I'm enjoying it, definitely.

"We're picking up points, we're maybe a surprise team for people. They don't expect much from us, we're happy with that, there is no pressure on us going into games," added Hendrick, part of a Clarets outfit who have beaten Liverpool, Watford, Everton and Crystal Palace, that Eagles win coming only last weekend.

"Sometimes we won't have the ball as much as other clubs but we'll work hard, keep fighting to the end. Like you've seen in a couple of games, we'll nick goals at the end. It's probably deserved to balance out throughout the season. Once or twice, Hull and Arsenal, we've conceded right at the end. You get that bit of luck here and there," he says.

"In the Championship, you could get away with losing the ball. If you do that in the Premier League, you get punished. In some of the games we've played in, we've done well, there is nothing in the game and then a goal would turn a game straight away.

"Like Leicester, we were doing fine and then: free kick, goal. Come out at half time, you're trying to get a foothold in the game, they score straight away. You lose the ball, they punish you in that league and you know that. It's enjoyable. I'm enjoying it. It's my first year in the Premier League but I'm learning."

pJeff Hendrick yesterday launched the Citizen Eco-Drive Satellite Wave-World Time GPS watch in Tower Jeweller's, Blanchardstown.

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