It is often said that making a real name for yourself in a major international tournament can open up doors to a big-money move to one of the most prestigious leagues across Europe, with Jeff Hendrick certainly providing an example to the rule. The 24-year-old excelled for us at Euro 2016, putting in a number of solid performance as his industry, work rate and ability on the ball came to the fore (he deserved a goal at Euro 2016). He has certainly become a key part of Martin O’Neill’s plans, with his early strike in the 2-2 draw in Serbia proving just how valuable Hendrick has become. Opening his account for Ireland on his 27th appearance for Ireland will hopefully be the first of many for a player who certainly has the ability to add goals to his game, with his £10.5 million summer move to Premier League newcomers Burnley providing the necessary step-up in his career. Coral may have the Clarets as one of the favourites for relegation, but there is every chance that Hendrick could make his mark in the top flight.
Some may have baulked at the fee Burnly paid for Derby’s prized midfielder (a Burnley fan and YBIG regular argued this very point on the ybig forum thread for Hendrick), but Sean Dyche was was more than willing to pay a seven-figure sum for a player who more than proved his quality at Euro 2016 and has stood out in the Championship for a number of years. The Burnley manager, and Hendrick himself, has already played down the significant of the hefty price tag hanging over the club-record signing, but although Dyche has made it clear that Hendrick will have to fight for his place in the team, he has praised the Irishman’s character and ‘quirky’ personality which has allowed him to settle quickly at Turf Moor.
Hendrick made his full Premier League debut at the home of defending champions Leicester, playing the full ninety minutes as Burnley went down to a 3-0 defeat. He showed glimpses of what he can bring to the newly-promoted side when he got on the ball, but the visitors were overpowered by the Foxes who made their superior quality tell. It may have been considered as a game that Burnley were not expected to get anything from as playing against teams that are likely to be in a relegation battle carrying much more significance, but as the Clarets have already picked up four points from a possible nine this season, including an excellent 2-0 win against Liverpool, they may fancy their chances against Watford on Monday night.
Hendrick will hope to make an impact in front of his own fans at Turf Moor, with his team in contention to feature on the full line-up of football tips on Coral’s website as a good shout to pick up three points; he will certainly face a fight up against in-form midfielder Etienne Capoue who has scored four goals already this season, but Hendrick’s tenacity could serve Burnley in good stead.
There is a general feeling that Hendrick belongs in the Premier League, particularly after he was so impressive for Ireland during the summer. His wonderful shot against Sweden which crashed off the crossbar was one of many standout moments, and although France ultimately proved too strong in the first knock-out stage, Hendrick has certainly enjoyed a career-changing summer. It remains to be seen if the 24-year-old can remain on the crest of a wave, but if he continues to progress as a footballer in the Premier League, than the midfielder could become a key player for club and country.
Words Ed Phelan