BY GER McCARTHY
FORMER Republic of Ireland and Liverpool midfielder Ronnie Whelan believes Conor Hourihane will have to wait a bit longer before nailing down a place in Martin O’Neill’s starting eleven.
Bandon star Hourihane (26) has scored five goals from midfield for Aston Villa in the Championship this campaign and he has been instrumental in Steve Bruce’s team’s recent impressive form that has seen them surge to seventh in the table after four wins on the bounce. They sit just one point outside of the play-offs.
Hourihane made his Republic of Ireland senior debut earlier this year and has made three appearances for the boys in green, including a late sub appearance in the recent 1-0 World Cup qualifier defeat to Serbia at the Aviva Stadium.
He is included in the squad for the upcoming crunch qualifiers against Moldova this Friday night and Wales away on Monday that will decide Ireland’s World Cup hopes.
A European Cup-winning creative midfielder with Liverpool, Ronnie Whelan knows better than anybody what it takes to become an effective playmaker at international level.
Whelan thinks newcomer Hourihane has the potential to fill that role for his country but may have to wait a bit longer to nail down a starting berth in Martin O’Neill’s line-up.
‘In terms of creativity, Ireland looks to Wes Hoolahan a lot of time yet he isn’t even starting for Norwich City,’ Whelan said.
‘Conor Hourihane is another that comes into the equation when it comes to talking about midfielders available to Martin O’Neill.
‘I don’t think he will bring in players with limited international experience during the important upcoming games.
‘O’Neill is going to stick with the players that have got him here so Hourihane and few others that are on the fringes are probably going to have to wait.’