I haven’t scored enough, admits Hendrick as he looks to next 50

Should Jeff Hendrick play against Switzerland tomorrow night, the game will mark his 50th cap for Ireland.

I haven’t scored enough, admits Hendrick as he looks to next 50

Should Jeff Hendrick play against Switzerland tomorrow night, the game will mark his 50th cap for Ireland.

That’s a significant milestone in any professional footballer’s career but while the Burnley midfielder is happy to reflect on some of the highlights to date — such as his debut against Poland in 2013, his assist for John O’Shea’s goal away to Germany and, of course, his standout performances at Euro 2016 — his main reaction to the landmark is to look forward, not back.

“100%,” he says. “I have got to 50 now and I want to just keep going, get as many caps as I can.

“It’s still only early but I’d have the same mentality as Glenn Whelan: You don’t retire, you retire when you stop getting picked, really.

I am enjoying it under the manager and staff here, I am playing a lot in a new position and we are playing some good football. He wants to play pressing which suits a lot of us and hopefully we can get good results by doing that.

Hopefully too, he says, he can add to his meagre return of just two goals in 49 appearances.

“Whether I’m scoring or assisting, that’s what I enjoy in football, and I haven’t scored enough,” he admits.

“I’ve spent a lot of games, I’d say for the 10 games from 30 caps on, out of position. I was playing on the right, I was nearly up top for a few games.

“For me, I was trying to adapt and do well for the team in that position. I do know football but it wasn’t natural for me to play in those big games in those positions.

“But now the last few games, I think you can see I’m playing in my position. The staff here know I can score goals, they’ve seen me at club level through the years. I’m happy with that and it’s something I want to do.”

Hendrick is only too well aware of the persistent criticism he hasn’t kicked on as expected from his impressive Euro finals displays three years ago.

“If I am playing out of position, they can criticise me for not keeping the ball or not doing the things I should do as a footballer,” he says.

“But the things people are saying — I’m not trying and I’m not working hard, that was tough, because I give everything when I put the green jersey on.

“I work hard, I get the running stats from every game, and me and James McClean are trying to beat each other, see who’s running more. It’s close. He just beat me in Gibraltar away, I beat him against Georgia at home. It’s just a bit of fun. James prides himself on training really hard.

“I think the Euros was such a high for everyone and the performance levels, I think, were quite high from the whole squad.

“A few of the lads then left the squad after that and we had some injuries. A couple of months after the Euros we probably had games where, from the starting 11 at the Euros, there were maybe four or five of us left. So it was a completely new team and I don’t think I saw that being mentioned many times.

We are all just trying to do our best for the country and if we couldn’t reach the highs of the Euros we were certainly trying to get there. It just didn’t happen sometimes.

It’s currently not happening for the Dubliner at Burnley where he has lost his starting place in Sean Dyche’s Premier League side but the 27-year-old — whose contract at Turf Moor is up at the end of the season — insists he won’t be found wanting if he gets the nod tomorrow.

“When it came to pre-season I probably played the most minutes out of any Burnley player,” he says.

“I played in every game, I was flying with that. I didn’t start the first couple of (league) games but I was working hard doing extras trying to get into the team. Then I played a reserve game and got a full 90 minutes.

“Then I got 90 against Sunderland (in the Carabao Cup) and with all the extra running I’m confident I’m fully fit and ready to go.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox