The former Cork City full-back has been dogged by patella and hernia injuries since moving to Hull City for €200,000 in 2014, only recently returning from an eight-month lay-off. With the Tigers firmly in the hunt to regain their Premier League status, forcing his way into Steve Bruce’s side during the Championship run-in represents a serious task for Lenihan.
That’s why he thought the boss might accede to his loan request.
“The loan window closes on Thursday but it’s not going to happen,” lamented the 21-year-old. “I feel fit and strong, and was hoping that I would go out on loan. When you’re training with the first team, but know that you are not going to play in these crunch games, it’s hard to feel involved. I have to realise that this period until the end of the summer is about building blocks for myself for next season. That’s the big one, because it’s the last year on my contract.”
Lenihan has endured an injury record that many players wouldn’t suffer over their entire career, but he refuses to become too disheartened.
“Going to Hull has been the right choice, even though it has gone horribly wrong. I’ve regained my fitness and this qualifier against Italy will gain me more match sharpness, if I play.”
Two Cork City players, Kevin O’Connor and Sean Maguire, are on international duty with Lenihan and the export believes his former club can end their 11-year wait for the League of Ireland title.
“I think this will be the club’s big year, by winning the league,” he asserts. “I know it’s early and people don’t like to get ahead of themselves, but to beat Dundalk twice so early is a psychological boost. While I know I am biased, having played there, I think Cork City are the biggest club in the country, especially when Shamrock Rovers are not doing particularly well.”