Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 6°C Tuesday 13 April 2021

Court case may have affected Hendrick's Ireland performances, says O'Neill

The Burnley midfielder was cleared of violent disorder earlier this month.

Hendrick shares a joke with Burnley and Ireland team-mate Robbie Brady before a recent friendly in Tallaght.
Hendrick shares a joke with Burnley and Ireland team-mate Robbie Brady before a recent friendly in Tallaght.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

IRELAND MANAGER MARTIN O’Neill hopes to see midfielder Jeff Hendrick return to top form after being found not guilty of violent disorder in court.

The 25-year-old was cleared of any wrongdoing after a four-day trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court earlier this month, where it was alleged he had assaulted another man after a verbal row that began in Krystal nightclub.

After starring as one of Ireland’s best players at Euro 2016, Hendrick’s performances in a green jersey haven’t reached the same levels over the past 12 months.

With four qualifiers remaining as the Boys in Green chase a spot at next year’s World Cup in Russia, O’Neill — speaking after the FAI Cup first draw in Kilkenny this afternoon – wants to see the Burnley man back to his best.

“Now that it’s over and you can maybe mention it, it may well have done,” O’Neill replied, when asked if the court case could have affected the Dubliner.

“I don’t think you want things that are hanging around you like that. They could be potentially disconcerting. It’s good that it’s cleared now so he can get his mind totally fixed and get ready.

“His form at the Euros was fantastic and sometimes it takes a bit of time to recapture that. Sometimes international football falls by the wayside as you’re trying to make your way at club level.

“Robbie Brady as well hasn’t made the impact he wanted to at club level. He got that move from Norwich to Burnley and is still finding his feet. I’m expecting bigger things from them as they get a little bit older.”

O’Neill added that he would like to see Hendrick, who joined Burnley from Derby County for £10.5 million last August, add more goals to his game.

“Jeff can play anywhere across the midfield, I think he can play behind the striker,” he said. “If you’re asking me now, I think he should score more goals. I think he’s got the ability to do that, but then I ask a lot of midfielders to score more goals..

“If you’ve midfielder who can score 10-12 goals from normal play at club level, you’ve got yourself a proper player and that’s something he should aim for.

In terms of kicking on from the Euros, I think it’s been a stop-start season for him. I think he should throw the shackles off and go play again.”

Several Irish players have made moves during the current transfer window, with Aiden McGeady linking up with new Sunderland manager Simon Grayson after a successful loan spell under him at Preston North End last season.

Meanwhile, Darren Randolph could be on his way out of West Ham, while Glenn Whelan has left Stoke City for Aston Villa and former Potters team-mate Jon Walters joins the growing Irish contingent of Hendrick, Brady, Stephen Ward and Kevin Long at Burnley.

“It looks as if I’m going to get a season ticket up at Turf Moor!” joked O’Neill.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

“For the likes of Jon , I’ve never been wildly concerned about him coming in and not having played much football. Apparently, he’s been promised more [football] at Burnley.

“He has been a great stalwart at Stoke, although I hate that word. I think the manager suggested he would get less playing time at Stoke as they try to push on. Jon has got this opportunity and I think it will be great for him.

Essentially, it’s decent news. We’ll see what happens on the goalkeeping front with Darren now that [Joe] Hart is gone to West Ham. He wouldn’t have gone there to be playing number two. But overall, it’s encouraging.”

Jon Walters Walters has found a new club too. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

As a ex-Sunderland boss who managed McGeady during their time at Celtic, O’Neill is well-positioned to comment on that deal as he knows both the club and player particularly well.

“I think it was almost a follow-on with Simon going to Sunderland,” he added. “Simon was very impressed with him and I was speaking to the other lads at Preston who said Aiden did very well.

“In some of the games I saw him play, he was absolutely fine. It’s good for him, he’s following a manager who knows his game at club level and who has got confidence in him, and that’s important for Aiden at this stage of his career.”

Grayson and McGeady have both departed Preston, but Seanie Maguire and Kevin O’Connor played their final game for Cork City this week ahead of a switch to the Championship club.

Daryl Horgan and Andy Boyle were both handed their Ireland debuts shortly after arriving there from Dundalk, and it is hoped that Maguire could be the next League of Ireland graduate to earn a senior international cap.

“I’m hoping that it will be part of his ambition anyway,” said O’Neill, when asked about the possibility of the striker featuring in future squads.

He’s got this opportunity now. I’m not in a position to tell you much about him, I don’t know the lad but from what I hear he’s a much more mature player now going back to England the second time around.

“Things have happened to him strangely enough — his career coming back here and not getting a game at Dundalk. Maybe that might have forced him to rethink his whole outlook on the game. He had a really big impact last season and has carried that on.

“He has everything to play for now. He must try make an impact at club level and get into the side. Take it on and back yourself. That’s the most important thing and the rest will follow.”

The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!

Cork City handed difficult draw to start their FAI Cup defence

‘I didn’t really stand out because there were a lot of boys bigger, stronger and quicker than me’

About the author:

Ben Blake

Read next: