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Hendrick eyes Irish role in future

DERBY COUNTY's Irish star Jeff Hendrick has played down talk of a possible senior international call-up, and the teenager says he's happy to wait for Ireland's call to come along.

Long-suffering Derby fans have enjoyed a very bright start to this season's Championship under Nigel Clough, and one of the most pleasing aspects of that good start is the form of midfielder Hendrick.

The Dubliner earned hero status among the Rams' support when he scored the winning goal in the September derby with Nottingham Forest.

His form is so good that manager Clough announced this week that the club would reward his efforts with an improved contract, while some Championship watchers have even wondered if Hendrick, 19, is now ready to make the step-up to Giovanni Trapattoni's international team.



Ambition

He's had to put at least one international ambition on hold as injury has forced the Coolock lad to withdraw from the U21 squad for next Tuesday's European Championship qualifier, and Hendrick also believes that any senior call-up is well into the future.

"If it worked out for me to get into the full Irish squad it would be great but that's down the road at the moment, I'm just focusing on playing for Derby," Hendrick told the Herald. "If I can get a few more games for the U21s and show what I can do there, then maybe the senior team manager might take note of me. But I know I'll have to work really hard to break into the senior squad as they're doing so well, but playing for Ireland is something I'd really love to do, especially if they do go on to the Euro finals next year."

Despite his success with Derby, he says he's keeping his feet on the ground.

"I haven't let myself get carried away," he said. "I just focus on Saturday afternoon at 3pm and try to play better than I did the previous week. It's a level-headed club here and it's great having Mark O'Brien, another young lad from Dublin, in the team with me."