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'Glenn doesn't get the credit he deserves. You don't play in the PL for 10 years without being very good'

Conor Hourihane feels his Aston Villa and Ireland team-mate is underappreciated.

Glenn Whelan pictured at Ireland training today.
Glenn Whelan pictured at Ireland training today.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CONOR HOURIHANE HAS emphasised the value of Ireland and Aston Villa team-mate Glenn Whelan ahead of the Boys in Green’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia.

Whelan tends to divide opinion among Ireland fans and pundits, with RTÉ analyst Eamon Dunphy among the player’s most vocal critics.

However, Hourihane is adamant that the 33-year-old offers plenty to both Ireland and Villa, admitting that he has only fully appreciated the veteran star’s importance since he started playing alongside Whelan in midfield on a regular basis at club level this season.

“Glenn doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” Hourihane told reporters at a press conference on Monday.

You don’t play in the Premier League for 10 years, or get 81 caps for Ireland, without being a very good player.

“He sits in there, does the dog work for lads like myself, and goes under the radar. He’s a great team player. You don’t realise that until you play with him.

He’s a great lad as well, he’s fitted in at Villa very well.

“Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting a bit of joy from it. So Glenn bringing that bit of stability has been good for myself personally.”

With a recent hat-trick against Norwich to his name, Hourihane comes into camp in good form. Nonetheless, the Bandon-born former Sunderland player won’t be getting carried away with some crucial games for his country on the horizon.

“I’m just going to train well over the next few days, try to grab the opportunity with both hands, showcase myself and take every day as it comes,” the Cork native said, when asked about his chances of being involved in some capacity against Georgia and Serbia.

Conor Hourihane Hourihane says he will be ready if given the nod to start against Georgia this weekend. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The 26-year-old midfielder also revealed he had spoken to Villa team-mate Scott Hogan about the Salford native’s recent decision to declare for Ireland.

Scott mentioned (the prospect of him playing for Ireland) to me. We’ve had a chat about it now and again. As far as I know, he has declared. He’s looking forward to playing for the country. He wants to play for the country and he’ll be a great player to have.

“Scott scores goals and he’ll definitely be trying to get into the squad whenever he can (Hogan is understood to be in the process of applying for an Irish passport).

He was just asking generally about the camp, the lads and the set-up. He’s obviously interested to see what it’s like. He’ll probably find his feet eventually when he does get into a squad and I’ll be there to help him along.”

Not many people will be expecting Hourihane, who so far has two Ireland caps under his belt, to start either of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

However, Martin O’Neill is not averse to springing a surprise, as he showed by handing a competitive debut to Kevin Long in Ireland’s last qualifier against Austria, and Hourihane insists he will be ready if given the nod.

There’s great pressure at a club like Villa to be in the Premier League and to get promoted from the Championship. That’s the aim for the club this year without a doubt.

“I feel like I’m playing well and if I can handle that pressure at Villa, I’m sure I can handle it here (with Ireland) as well.”

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Paul Fennessy

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