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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 22 October, 2019

Aston Villa boss Bruce hails 'terrific' hat-trick hero Hourihane

The Irish midfielder scored three times for his side in yesterday’s win against Norwich City.

Conor Hourihane took home the match ball yesterday at Villa Park.
Conor Hourihane took home the match ball yesterday at Villa Park.
Image: EMPICS Sport

STEVE BRUCE HAS heaped praise on Conor Hourihane after the Irish midfielder fired Aston Villa to their first Championship victory of the season yesterday.

Having started the day at the bottom of the table, Villa have moved up to 16th place in England’s second tier thanks to a 4-2 home win over Norwich City.

Hourihane opened the scoring at Villa Park before adding two more goals in the second half to complete his hat-trick.

Afterwards, Villa boss Bruce expressed his delight for the West Cork native, who — along with Henri Lansbury — was one of his marquee signings back in January after he impressed while captaining Barnsley.

“I’m delighted for Conor too,” Bruce told Aston Villa’s official website. “He’s only been here six months and found it difficult to deal with the expectation. The same goes for Lansbury.

“But we know they are good players and we have to bring them out of their shell and perform on the big stage here. That becomes difficult when it is so expectant.

“Him and Lansbury — we bought them in January when the two of them were the top goalscorers and assist makers in the division at Barnsley and Nottingham Forest.

“I think what they’ve found very quickly is the expectation that comes upon you and you have to find that little bit of confidence. They were big players at Barnsley and Forest and they’ve got to take it on to this big stage here.

“I’m delighted for Conor — when he gets to the edge of the box you think ‘goal’ because he practices. It is not often you get a hat-trick for a midfield player. Terrific.”

Hourihane has now scored four goals in his last two outings, having also been on target in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Reading.

The 26-year-old, who made his senior Republic of Ireland debut against Iceland back in March, was named in Martin O’Neill’s squad earlier this week for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Georgia and Serbia.

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Paul Dollery

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