Derby County's midfielder Jeff Hendrick is tipped to sparkle for the Irish
NIGEL Clough believes Derby County's young midfielder Jeff Hendrick has the potential to make a big impact on the senior international stage.
Hendrick received his first call-up to the Republic of Ireland full squad this week ahead of the friendly against Poland in Dublin next month.
Clough says the call-up is thoroughly deserved, given Hendrick's form.
"I think his performances have been so impressive in the last couple of months," added Clough.
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"When you look at some of the midfielders – and no disrespect to who is in the Republic of Ireland squad – Jeff has got the potential to be as good as any of them."
Fortunes have changed for Hendrick, who struggled to find his form earlier this season.
He was left out for the home games against Birmingham City and Cardiff but he has responded in a positive manner.
He is set to make an 11th consecutive start against Blackburn Rovers in today's FA Cup fourth round tie at Pride Park (3pm) and is playing as well as ever.
He has been linked with Premier League clubs Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion in the past. His current form could lead to more speculation.
Hendrick, who turns 21 on Thursday, has represented his country at all levels from under-15 to under-21.
He has also been in the goals for Derby. His tally of five this season includes three in his last four games.
"My target for the season was to hit double figures," he said.
"I'm halfway there now, so if I can kick on in the second half of the season I might get there.
"It's nice to get on the scoresheet and hopefully I can keep that going.
"At the start of the season I struggled with my form but the last two months have been really good for me.
"I just had to dig deep, keep working hard in training until things turned for me and thankfully the season has turned for me."