Jeff Hendrick backing Robbie Brady to return to his best for club and country

Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady
Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady

He’s back in the first team picture at Burnley, and in line for a return for the Republic of Ireland, and Jeff Hendrick feels Robbie Brady is ready to recapture his best form.

The 27-year-old winger, alongside Hendrick, was one of Ireland’s stars at Euro 2016, scoring a memorable winner in the group stage against Italy to earn a place in the knockout phase.

Hendrick joined the Clarets that summer from Derby County, with best mate Brady following in January 2017 from Norwich City, both for then-record fees.

Brady was hitting his straps at Burnley, a big part in the march to seventh place in the Premier League in 2017/18, and a Europa League slot, before the former Hull City wideman suffered a serious knee injury at Leicester in December 2017.

He has made 23 appearances for the Clarets in almost two years, with a number of niggling injuries restricting his opportunities, but ahead of Thursday’s friendly with Chris Wood’s New Zealand, and the crucial Euro 2020 qualifier with Denmark on Monday, both in Dublin, Hendrick believes Brady is ready to make an impact for club and country again.Ireland simply have to beat Denmark, and Hendrick said: “Robbie has been fit for a good bit of time now.

“He was unfortunate he didn’t make the last squad, but he’s kept his head up and worked hard and kept himself ready.

“Thankfully, he’s in the squad now.

“He can be a big player for our country – he has been in the past.

“He’s played four games for us in the group and scored a goal, so hopefully he can get another one for us.”

Brady started for the Clarets in the 2-1 defeat at Leicester last month, before returning to the bench, and Hendrick admitted: “The injury was tough – he was flying right before it.

“It takes a while – you seem to pick up little niggles here and there when you’re coming back from an injury like that.

“It was difficult for him to get going and he needed a run of games and it’s hard.

“We started playing well again and picked up points at that time, so it was tough for him to get in.

“Now, he’s looking very sharp and like he was before the injury, so I’m hoping he can bring it into games.”

And on the Denmark game, Hendrick is desperate to get back to the finals of a major tournament: “I hope we win the game.

“The squad will be ready for it. It’s massive – it’s a cup final game.

“Us as a country, I don’t think we’ve ever been in the situation where we can qualify from our group.

“We’ve always had to go through the play-off route and that’s the hard way – it’s probably the way we’ve been used to over the years, but it would be a great feeling to qualify.

“We qualified four years ago and it’s one of the best feelings I’ve had, personally, in my career so I’d love to be able to get that feeling back again.”