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Sunday 16 June 2019

More to come from me in the green shirt: Jeff

FOCUS: Jeff Hendrick pictured in yesterday’s press conference. Photo: Sportsfile
FOCUS: Jeff Hendrick pictured in yesterday’s press conference. Photo: Sportsfile

It was the task that baffled Martin O'Neill for so long.

How to get Jeff Hendrick to replicate, on a regular basis, the form he showed at the Euro 2016 finals, the displays which meant that Hendrick went to France as a Championship player and started the next season as a Premier League man with a big price tag on his record.

That's now an issue facing Mick McCarthy too, though a return of a goal by Hendrick from the first game of the new manager's reign is a positive sign.

And Hendrick says there is more to come from him as he bids to step things up.

"I think I have seen some good times already. But I have only just turned 27, so I still have plenty of years to go. I am still improving and hopefully I will play better for my country," he says.

"I think by scoring goals, it will help me play better. Especially with people looking on, when they see my name on the scoresheet it helps. So that's what I am trying to do.

"I have started off with a goal there. I am aiming to get more goals and that's what I am trying to do.

"I'll try to get into the box more often, get onto the end of balls in and around the box and shoot more," he added.

Impression

"We didn't score enough goals recently and that's down to us as players but we've been told to get in the box and try and score goals. That's down to us on the pitch, to really work hard."

Compatriots at Turf Moor have not had the best of seasons: Stephen Ward has been injured for a long spell, Robbie Brady has been unable to work his way back into the Burnley side on a long-term basis since his return from injury, while Kevin Long is a squad player.

BACK OF THE NET: Hendrick scores against Gibraltar last Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile
BACK OF THE NET: Hendrick scores against Gibraltar last Saturday. Photo: Sportsfile

But Hendrick, with 19 Premier League starts, has made an impression, even though his role changes according to Sean Dyche's mood and demands, but a central role is his preferred option.

"It's where I have played for most of my career. When I have been playing in other positions I have just been filling in or doing a job for the team. But I am definitely more comfortable in the centre," Hendrick said.

"I am playing in a different position to six months ago, even 10 months ago, 12 months ago. Roles change and I've just been trying to do my best for the team.

"Club-wise we still have points to put on the board and that's our aim, but I'm not even thinking about that to be honest. The main thing is tonight," he added, looking ahead to the Georgia tie.

His goal against Gibraltar has sent the Irish side into tonight's game on a high, qualification of course the aim. "It's good for the morale, the momentum. We want to stay unbeaten, to put points on the board and put pressure on the other teams in the group. We have got to do that tonight," he said.

Aim

"Three points would be lovely. So that is definitely our aim. We know it's going to be tough but we have got to try our best to get them.

"We know it's going to be tough, but for us our aim is to get three points. We are at home, we want to go out there and make it hard for them.

"Maybe the last time we played them it was a bit too easy for them. We need to make sure we change that and make it more difficult," he says, looking back to the most recent clash with Georgia, a 1-1 draw.

"The last game I was injured, so I was watching it.

"We got the early goal but we didn't really step on from there.

"We just gave them time to get on the ball and play the way they can.

"It's for us now to stop them doing that again."

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