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Dublin: 7°C Thursday 22 October 2020

'In the first few minutes we had a knockabout with Roy Keane and Steve Guppy. That set the tone'

Winger Jonny Hayes is keen to make the most of his first call-up to the Ireland squad this week.

Hayes at the National Sports Campus this afternoon.
Hayes at the National Sports Campus this afternoon.

HAVING HAD TO wait until the age of 28 to receive his first senior international call-up, Jonny Hayes says he wasn’t fazed in the slightest by his first day on the training pitch.

Chipping in with five goals and eight assists for Aberdeen this season as they chase a first Scottish title since 1985, the Dublin-born winger’s club form has caught the eye of Martin O’Neill ahead of friendly games with Switzerland and Slovakia.

A Reading youth product, he was coming through the ranks at the same time that Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Stephen Hunt were making waves in the Premier League under Steve Coppell.

Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get the chance to make a senior appearance for the Royals and left for Leicester City in 2007. Again, Hayes, found first-team football difficult to come by and, after a couple of loan spells, he headed to Scotland with Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

In 2012, he joined his current club and these days can call upon two Irish team-mates in Adam Rooney and Willo Flood at the Dons.

“I knew about a dozen of the squad from before, whether it be in England or underage teams,” Hayes said after today’s session. “I knew it would be quite relaxing and I wasn’t daunted at all.

“You’re playing with genuine Premier League players so the standard is a little bit higher and it took me a minute to adjust.”

Roy Keane Still up for a game: Assistant boss Keane. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

He and fellow newcomer Jack Byrne were pinging balls at each other at the beginning of training when two of the coaches decided to get involved — as they often like to do.

The first few minutes myself and Jack had a knockabout with Roy Keane and Steve Guppy. That set the tone for training so we knew what to expect.”

When asked to describe the type of player he is, Hayes joked: “I run around and give the ball away a lot! No, I’d probably describe myself as an old-fashioned winger.

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“I don’t think there are many like that in the game anymore. But it’s hard to say, you don’t want to talk about yourself in good terms then look silly.

“I just like getting on the ball and creating goals.”

Source: SPFL/YouTube

Along with the likes of Alan Judge, Harry Arter, Shane Duffy, Stephen Gleeson and Matt Doherty, Hayes could be handed a rare opportunity to don the green shirt with two games in the space of four days coming up later this week.

O’Neill says he will monitor the new boys in training before deciding on a team that will balance experience with experimentation at the Aviva Stadium on Good Friday.

“We’ve got a couple of lads coming in, the likes of Jonny Hayes and people like this, young Judge who has impressed in training although he has not got on the field of play yet,” the Ireland boss said.

It’s those type of players who I will be having a little look at. I’ll see how they get on and see how training goes for a start, then make a decision on Friday.

“They should feel that they have been picked because of club form and they have shown decent form so they should try to keep that going and not to be overawed by it.”

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Ben Blake

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