'The frustration is that we're still crying out for Hendrick's 2016 performances' 2 months ago

'The frustration is that we're still crying out for Hendrick's 2016 performances'

Former Republic of Ireland defender Gary Breen has called for midfielder Jeff Hendrick to step up and take more command in internationals.

The Burnley midfielder has been capped 49 times for Ireland since making his international debut in 2013 but many fans and pundits feel that he's failed to kick on since his excellent performances at Euro 2016.

The Dubliner started in a midfield two alongside Aston Villa's Conor Hourihane but Breen feels that he still needs to undertake a more substantial role for Ireland in the middle of the park.

'The frustration is that we're still crying out for those performances. I'd say one thing here that if you were to dissect his game in a two you've got to be reliable on the ball. You can't give it away.

'You see him give away a cheap free-kick so his frustration is obvious but in another case he gets the ball in plenty of space and he gets his head up and it's a poor pass from a player of his quality.

'I like Jeff, I really do, but he needs to grab the game by the scruff of the neck. He wasn't alone but we're trying to put so much stock in what he can become for this Irish team.

'He'll look at it and think he can do better. There's no doubt about it'.

Former Ireland manager Brian Kerr, a co-pundit alongside Breen, said he thinks that the 27-year-old actually plays better in a deeper role but that too often he tends to drift towards the sidelines during international games.

"I think he’s better against teams who are better than us and he’s in a structured defensive role where he can break out from that,” added Kerr.

“I have been disappointed with his progress since coming into the team… Too often, he’s drifting out around the fringes, out on the wide sides of the pitch. As a central midfielder in a two, you need to be the one in there coming up with the improvisation to put people through with passes.”