Hourihane expresses World Cup ambitions as he lifts the lid on frustration at Aston Villa

The Ireland midfielder has joined Swansea City on loan.

Conor Hourihane pictured during Ireland's draw with Bulgaria in November.
Conor Hourihane pictured during Ireland's draw with Bulgaria in November.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONOR HOURIHANE’S INTERNATIONAL career was a key consideration in his departure from Aston Villa.

Having been restricted to just four Premier League appearances this season, Hourihane has joined Swansea City on loan until the end of the 2020-21 campaign.

He has already made a considerable impact for the promotion chasers by scoring in both of his Championship appearances so far, as well as helping the Welsh outfit to set up an FA Cup fifth-round tie against Manchester City. 

In a podcast interview with the Southern Star, the Republic of Ireland midfielder explained his decision to make a temporary move away from Villa Park.

“I could have taken the easy option and sat around at Villa until the end of the season and collect my money, but that’s just not the type of guy I am. It’s not the character I am and it doesn’t sit well with me,” he said.

“When I wasn’t getting the game-time and was kind of told by the club that I wouldn’t play as much as I’d like, it was definitely something I wanted to try and do – to get out and play until the end of the season.”

Despite playing a pivotal role in helping Villa to retain their Premier League status last season, Hourihane’s prospects were hindered by Ross Barkley’s arrival from Chelsea.

His debut for Swansea, which came in the 5-1 FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest on 23 January, marked the Corkman’s first competitive outing at club level in eight weeks.

“It was probably one of the most frustrating [periods] I’ve had for a long time in my career, if I’m being honest,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate in my career in terms of playing regularly for the last six or seven years, so it’s kind of the first period I’ve had where I’ve had maybe two months without playing.

“I found it difficult, I’m not going to lie about that. I wanted to play, I was itching to play. Whenever I’ve played in the Premier League I’ve felt that I’ve done okay and rose to the level, so I felt a little bit hard done by from that point of view.

“The club brought in some very good players and spent a lot of money. Some clubs aren’t in a great position financially but Villa definitely aren’t one of those clubs. The owners are very wealthy, they can spend a lot of money and they have done that on players.

“Ross [Barkley] obviously came into the central midfield area, a fantastic player with huge attributes to be a top-quality player – he has been and will be moving forward.

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“It’s going to be tough to stay at Villa and stay at that level but it’s something I’ll keep fighting for. Hopefully this loan period can be a positive step from that point of view.”

swansea-city-v-brentford-sky-bet-championship-liberty-stadium Hourihane is congratulated after scoring for Swansea City against Brentford. Source: PA

Hourihane says his determination to be involved in Ireland’s opening World Cup qualifiers next month was also “a big factor” in his move to Swansea City.

The 30-year-old will hope to add to his tally of 24 caps when Stephen Kenny’s side begin their bid to reach the 2022 tournament in Qatar with games against Serbia and Luxembourg, which are scheduled for 24 and 27 March respectively.

“I didn’t want to go into the start of the World Cup campaign and not be match-fit and not be ready for that because I might have fallen down the pecking order a little bit, so that was in the back of my head as well.

“I spoke to Stephen [Kenny] and Keith Andrews [assistant manager] and people like that about heading out [on loan], and they were really pushing for that as well.

“Something I want to do before I finish my career is get to a major tournament with Ireland. That kicks off in March so hopefully we can get off to a good start.”

Of his Aston Villa future, Hourihane – who’s contracted to the club until June 2022 – added: “We’ll just see what happens. It’s great to be a part of that football club, it’s a terrific football club, it’s huge. The players that they bring in, it’s a pleasure to play with a lot of them, so we’ll see what happens come the summer.

“First and foremost, let’s make this loan period a successful one and then go back and re-evaluate.”

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