Ready to Burst onto the Scene: Jeff Hendrick
With one senior cap to his name, Irish football fans should be seeing a lot more of young Dubliner Jeff Hendrick.
With 72 minutes on the clock in Ireland’s recent friendly with Poland, Jeff Hendrick came on to make his international debut. A tidy 18 minutes later, and with a lovely assist to his name for Wes Hoolahan’s goal, it was all over but there were more than enough signs that the 21-year-old Dub could be a midfield fixture for the next decade.
For those who watch the Irish underage scene, the arrival of Hendrick to the senior team wouldn’t have been a huge surprise. Hendrick has featured on Irish squads from Under 15 level onwards and he was nominated for U17 Player of theYear in 2010. At Under 19 level Hendrick was the standout player at the European Championships of 2011 as the team reached the semi-finals
By that point, Hedrick had already made his debut for his club Derby, against Burnley, near the end of the 2011 season.
He continued to make progress at underage level for Ireland, graduating to the Under 21 ranks, all the while cementing his place in the Derby line-up.
The one time St Kevin’s Boys player made his first start for Derby right at the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign and he went on to make 39 of them and win the Young Player of the Year award at the club.
As a midfielder we have seen Hendrick compared to Frank Lampard in more than a few places. That’s a very big comparison but the midfielder does have an eye for goal. In January this year he scored in three consecutive games but he has also shown defensive discipline when asked to sit deeper and protect his back four.
Have a look at this goal Hendrick scored, against Derby’s arch-rivals Nottongham Forest, to see evidence of his fine finishing skills.
With Derby a hotbed of Irish players at the moment (Richard Keogh, Mark O'Brien, Conor Sammon and Gary Dicker are all there) Giovanni Trapattoni popped down for a look this season and Hendrick made an impression. In fairness, we hope his Under 21 performances would have prompted Trap already to have a look but the main thing is that now Hendrick is in the loop.
With rumours of a Premier League transfer already floating around, we suspect we will see Hendrick at the highest level in England sooner rather than later.
As for the Boys in Green, we fully expect the tiny taster of what we saw last month to be just the beginning of a long, and hopefully fruitful, Irish career.