MX23RW : Wednesday, November 20 07:59:23| >> :600:3701062:3701062:

Conor Hourihane: 'I'm not a guaranteed starter for Ireland'

Conor Hourihane: 'I'm not a guaranteed starter for Ireland'
© Reuters
The midfielder had to drop down to League Two to rebuild his career.

Conor Hourihane is refusing to accept that he is a Republic of Ireland regular as he attempts to cement his place for the crucial Euro 2020 qualifier double-header against Georgia and Switzerland.

The 28-year-old Aston Villa midfielder has started all five competitive games of manager Mick McCarthy's reign to date, one of nine men to have done so, but having suffered disappointments earlier in his career, is in no mood to take anything for granted.

Sitting alongside Preston counterpart Alan Browne, who impressed in last month's friendly victory over Bulgaria, Hourihane was asked what it meant to him to be one of the first names on McCarthy's teamsheet.

Conor Hourihane (centre) is relishing his Premier League return
Conor Hourihane (centre) is relishing his Premier League return (Bradley Collyer/PA)

He said: "That's definitely not my mindset, that's for sure. I don't see myself as one of the first names on the teamsheet. If you become complacent, that's when someone pushes you out of the way.

"People like Browney did fantastically in the game against Bulgaria and he'll be pushing me for my place, so I know I need to be on top of my game to be on the teamsheet come Saturday.

"I'll be working this week like I'm fighting for my place, like it's one of my first caps, and hopefully be selected for the weekend."

Hourihane's caution is founded on his experiences during a career to date which has seen him released as a teenager by Sunderland and then Ipswich a year later before rebooting in League Two with Plymouth.

A two-and-a-half-year spell at Barnsley won him his move to Villa, for whom he scored in a 5-1 Premier League win at Norwich on Saturday to confirm his return.

It has been a long and arduous road and for that reason, even his key role in McCarthy's qualification blueprint will not deflect him from his mission to keep his feet firmly on the ground.

He said: "When I dropped down to League Two, I always had that self-confidence and self-belief that I would come back up.

"I worked so hard, even on my days off, working hard, sacrificing everything to make it happen.

"Yes, it was great at the weekend and it shows hard work does pay off with those kinds of moments, but it is one I won't be resting on. I'm never satisfied with my game, I'm always my worst critic.

"I'm working on my game this week again to try to improve. Maybe later on in my career, or when I'm finished, I'll look back on it with great pride, but now is not the time to look back on it, it's time to kick on again."

Hourihane's goal at Carrow Road means he has now scored in all of England's top four divisions, but that too is something he intends to improve upon, particularly at international level, where his winner against Georgia at the Aviva Stadium in March represents his total haul.

That said, Ireland would be happy whoever scored in Tbilisi on Saturday if it meant another three points towards Group D qualification having found the going tough on their last two visits despite emerging with four points from a possible six.

The midfielder said: "The last time we went there I was on the bench when [Shane] Duffy scored the goal, and that was an extremely tough night.

"Before, I was in the squad when we needed two great goals from Aiden McGeady to get a result out there. Denmark are a very good side, so if Georgia held them at 0-0, it shows what a good side they are."

body check tags ::

Click here for more stories about Conor Hourihane

Click here for more stories about Republic of Ireland

Share this article now:
Instagram - Follow Sports Mole
Mick McCarthy pictured on September 5, 2019
Read Next:
Ireland boss Mick McCarthy facing defensive troubles
>

Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool12111028101834
2Leicester CityLeicester128222982126
3Chelsea1282227171026
4Manchester CityMan City1281335132225
5Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd12453139417
6Arsenal124531617-117
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd124441612416
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves123721615116
9Bournemouth124441515016
10Burnley124351718-115
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124351517-215
12Crystal Palace124351016-615
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle124351118-715
14Tottenham HotspurSpurs123541817114
15Everton124261318-514
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham123451420-613
17Aston Villa123271720-311
18Watford12156823-158
19Southampton122281129-188
20Norwich CityNorwich122191128-177

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!