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'I like Jeff, I really do. I want him to grab the game by the scruff of the neck'

The Burnley midfielder excelled for Ireland at Euro 2016, but has struggled to replicate that form at international level since then.

Ireland's Jeff Hendrick and Louie Annesley of Gibraltar.
Ireland's Jeff Hendrick and Louie Annesley of Gibraltar.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

GARY BREEN AND Brian Kerr were critical of Jeff Hendrick’s display amid a lacklustre 2-0 win over Gibraltar last night.

The Burnley midfielder excelled for Ireland at Euro 2016, but has struggled to replicate that form at international level since then.

Last night’s match was another disappointing display from the 27-year-old, who gave the ball away too cheaply at times and struggled to impose himself on the game.

Though former international Breen acknowledged that the midfielder was far from the only Irish player to deliver a sub-par performance, he lamented his inability to “grab the game by the scruff of the neck” against the team ranked 195th in the world.

“I think he’s better against teams who are better than us and he’s in a structured defensive role where he can break out from that,” added Kerr.

“I have been disappointed with his progress since coming into the team… Too often, he’s drifting out around the fringes, out on the wide sides of the pitch. As a central midfielder in a two, you need to be the one in there coming up with the improvisation to put people through with passes.”

Meanwhile, the panel were full of praise for Denmark after their impressive 5-1 win over Georgia last night.

While the Danes could only draw 1-1 with Ireland on Friday night, they showed superior technical ability to the Boys in Green, and Kerr gave an insight into why their players are currently thriving.

“Their own league is a vibrant league with a well thought out coaching structure that a lot of other countries would admire,” he said. “They also would have clear pathways for the players through the underage structures, through the academy system into the first team.

“They have the contacts throughout Europe where players emerge and go on and get great experience in German leagues and Italian leagues, their players move on, whereas with our players, it’s automatically Britain. Their players get their education [in other] countries.”

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Paul Fennessy

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