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'For the first person through the door to be of Conor’s level and experience is really positive'

The Irish international is hoping to play a big part in Swansea City’s promotion push.

Straight in: Conor Hourihane in training with Swansea City.
Straight in: Conor Hourihane in training with Swansea City.

SWANSEA CITY HAVE brought in a player of real character, hunger and experience in Conor Hourihane, says manager Steve Cooper.

The Irish international joined the Championship outfit on loan from Aston Villa yesterday, and he’ll spend the remainder of the season on loan at the Swans.

Hourihan, 29, brings a wealth of experience to the Welsh club chasing promotion to the Premier League, having experienced it himself with Villa and Barnsley (to the Championship), and having made over 350 league appearances.

“It’s great news,” Cooper said of the Cork midfielder, who comes to the club following the recent departures of Kasey Palmer and Morgan Gibbs-White, speaking to the club’s website.

“We were looking to strengthen the squad regardless of losing the three boys who were recalled. But that has made it a necessity and for the first person through the door in that position to be of Conor’s level and experience is really positive.

“We were surprised that he may be available, and we really went for it in terms of trying to maximise the chance of him being here and fortunately he has decided this is the next step for him. We are delighted and looking forward to getting going.”

“He has operated in the Premier League for the last season-and-a-half, and been on a good journey to get there too,” he added.

“It tells you everything about his character that he wants to play and wants to be part of something that is going for something and contribute to it.

“I know he is really hungry, like Ryan Bennett and some of the older boys here they have had those experiences and it is good to have that in the mix, with the blend of youth and maturity we have.”

Newest addition Hourihane also got a big mention in Coopers’ press conference duties today.

“Once we knew that he may be available we pursued it 110%. A lot of work went into getting the deal done and he’s really bought into our plan and the role he can play within it.

Not only are we getting a really good player through the door who has good experience and mentality, he has already fitted right into the culture we have here.

The gaffer is looking to utilise Hourihane’s energy around the middle, and his quality from set-pieces with his “wand of a left foot,” as Villa team-mate Jack Grealish recently remarked.

His impact on the pitch could be felt almost immediately, with Cooper noting that Hourihan may make his Swansea debut in their FA Cup fourth-round clash against Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

“I haven’t decided on the team yet but he’ll definitely be in the mix,” he nodded. “When you join a new club the first thing you want is to get going. I’m sure he’ll be really keen to play.

“How much he does, we’re still going through the game preparation but I certainly think he’s in contention, that’s for sure.”

Hourihane made it quite clear that game time was the reason behind his move, with Villa boss Dean Smith also stressing that himself. And in his first interview at his new club, the Irishman spoke about how “excited” he was by the challenge ahead.

With several other Championship clubs interested, Hourihane says Cooper stood out to him and he’s looking forward to contributing goals, assists and wins through the run-in.

“It [the club] just ticked all the boxes really,” he said. “It made the decision quite easy, and the right one I felt.

“I’m desperate to play. I’m 30 next month, I didn’t want to sit around. Your career goes by pretty quickly.

“I’ve had a few promotions in my career so hopefully I can bring that little bit of experience.”

Hourihane is the second Irishman to head to Liberty Stadium this season, following in the footsteps of Ryan Manning, who made the move to Wales from Queens Park Rangers in October.

Swansea currently sit in second place, seven points adrift of leaders Norwich City and two ahead of Brentford.  

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Emma Duffy

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