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'We spoke when Jack came in about leaving his ego at the door... That's the thing he's brought to us'

Stephen Bradley reserved praise for his midfield star after an impressive performance in Shamrock Rovers’ win on Friday.

Jack Byrne impressed for Shamrock Rovers against Sligo on Friday.
Jack Byrne impressed for Shamrock Rovers against Sligo on Friday.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

SHAMROCK ROVERS BOSS Stephen Bradley says there is “more to come” from Jack Byrne, after the midfielder produced an influential performance in Shamrock Rovers’ 3-0 win over Sligo on Friday.

The victory saw the Hoops go four points clear at the top of the SSE Airtriciy League Premier Division, with a magnificent goal from the former Manchester City youngster the highlight of a comfortable win at Tallaght Stadium.

Bradley, who was speaking prior to confirmation on Sunday that Byrne was a late call-up to Mick McCarthy’s Ireland squad, emphasised the 22-year-old midfielder’s work-rate in addition to his natural talent and suggested that he has the potential to become even better as the season progresses.

“We said to him at half-time: ‘You need to shoot.’ He was getting himself in some very good positions. He has really good quality in that area and he was trying to set everyone else up. We said ‘just let fly,’ and obviously he did that in the second half.

“He’s getting better and better. You have to remember that since he’s left Oldham [in August 2018], Jack hasn’t played a lot of football. Every game, he’s getting his legs and feeling more confident. You can see in the little things, he plays around corners quicker now, because he’s getting to the flow of the game.

“When he’s in that form, he’s very good. The one pleasing thing for me is that we spoke when Jack came in about leaving his ego at the door and working for the team. That’s the number one thing he’s brought to us. And he’s playing off the back off it, it’s been brilliant.”

The Dublin-born youngster experienced a turbulent period in his career prior to joining the Hoops. Amid an impressive loan spell at Eredivisie side Cambuur, he was invited to train with the Ireland senior squad by Martin O’Neill in March 2016. However, subsequent spells at Blackburn, Wigan, Oldham and Kilmarnock each proved relatively short-lived, prompting a return to his native country.

Asked whether Byrne specifically needed to be told to be less egotistical, Bradley responded: “I don’t think so. It’s just important that when you come back to this league, you respect that it’s a tough league and you need to work before you do anything else. When we got Graham Burke [from Notts County], it was the same conversation.

You just have to respect the game and understand that in this league, if you don’t work, teams will outwork you. Jack, when you speak to him, is a really level-headed guy and he just wants to win so much, but it’s about understanding what comes before his quality and that’s hard work, and he’s brought that to the table in abundance.

“The pleasing thing for us is Jack’s in with the group, he works with the team, he’s getting his level, I still believe there’s more to come from him. I’ve seen him play for years and I know there’s more to come.”

In addition to Byrne, for Friday’s upcoming clash with Finn Harps, Rovers will also be missing Trevor Clarke, who is on U21 duty with Ireland, while they could be without Brandon Kavanagh, who is on standby for Stephen Kenny’s squad.

When a club has two or more players away on international duty, they can seek a postponement to a clashing fixture, with four out of five of this week’s Premier Division games already called off owing to such circumstances, but the Shamrock Rovers boss was adamant that their match would go ahead.

We’ll definitely play next Friday, even if Brandon’s called up, we won’t call it off. We have a chance to go and play a game. I don’t see a reason to call it off. We believe the squad is strong, so go and play.”

And aside from the minor complaint that some of the team’s finishing could have been better, Bradley professed satisfaction with his side’s latest victory.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance to compete with Dundalk and Cork when the business end comes around,” the 34-year-old coach added. “Last year, we were playing catch-up from early on, this year we’ve given ourselves a chance to stay the pace.”

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Paul Fennessy

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