Hendrick: Ireland must keep leading the way in World Cup qualifying



Jeff Hendrick says that the Republic of Ireland must carry their good start to World Cup qualifying into 2017 as they look to do their fans and country proud.

Having reached the last-16 at Euro 2016, Ireland finished the year on a high with a historic victory against Austria - their first ever win in Vienna - a result which saw them rise to the summit of Group D following a draw between Serbia and Wales.

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Unbeaten after four group games, Martin O'Neill's team sit two points clear of their nearest rivals Serbia and four points ahead of Wales, who occupy third in the table.

Hendrick has figured prominently for the Boys in Green in the past two years under O'Neill, playing a key role in helping the team to the European Championship and subsequently earning plaudits for his performances at the tournament.

With a crunch game against Wales to come next March, the Burnley midfielder is adamant that Ireland must maintain the pace as they attempt to reach their first World Cup since 2002.

"We’re in a good position," Hendrick told Goal. "Now we’ve got to keep going, keep getting points and people need to catch us." 

Hendrick scored after three minutes in Ireland's 2-2 World Cup qualifying opener away to Serbia back in September and, as well as starring at international level, the Dublin native has been a consistent performer in the Premier League for Burnley since making the move from Derby County at the end of August.

The 24-year-old has made 10 appearances for Sean Dyche's side and opened his account with a goal in Burnley's 2-0 win over Watford in September. 

There is a four-month wait for Ireland's game against Wales, which takes place on March 24 at the Aviva Stadium, and Hendrick will have plenty of club games to keep him occupied until then.

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However, the midfielder has not taken his eye off the prize of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and insists that the current crop of players are determined to give the Irish fans and nation something to cheer about.

"We’ve got to be clever, keep picking up points and leading the way," Hendrick continued.

"We’ve got a tight group, everyone loves putting the jersey on for Ireland, doing the fans proud and the country proud and that’s what we’re trying to do."

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