Hendrick one for future as he knocks on door at Rams
NIGEL Clough sees Jeff Hendrick as a big part of Derby County's future plans but the Rams will be without the promising young midfielder for most of pre-season.
Hendrick has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the UEFA Under-19 Championships in Romania this month.
The eight-team tournament runs from July 20 to August 1 and the Republic will prepare at a training camp in Rome from Sunday.
Hendrick is training with the Rams first-team squad at Moor Farm and Clough has been delighted with the 19-year-old's development and progress in the past 12 months.
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The manager says Hendrick is knocking on the door of the first team.
"Of the youngsters, Jeff is the closest and if we don't get another midfielder in, he will be even closer," added Clough.
"He has progressed a lot in the past 12 months. He has matured, physically as well as mentally."
Hendrick was a key figure for the Reserves in their totesport.com League success last season and he appeared as a substitute for the first team in the final four matches of the Championship campaign.
Clough was keen to take a close look at Hendrick in the upcoming pre-season friendlies and the Rams boss is a little frustrated about losing the player for a number of weeks.
"We would love to have had him involved with us during pre-season but this is too good an opportunity for him to miss," said Clough.
"He was involved in Ireland's qualification campaign and deserves the chance to go and play in the finals.
"Being involved in the tournament means he will keep fit and be playing games, so when he does return he will be back involved with the squad."
Hendrick has shown up well in the first week of pre-season.
"The only reason you have doubts about starting with Jeff in the coming season is because he hasn't played," said Clough.
"If he was 25 years old and you saw what we see out there on the training ground, you would say he was in your starting 11.
"But when he is 19 you do have to be a little bit careful.
"We don't like to talk about individual players but let's just use John Eustace as an example because he has been identified as a target of ours.
"John has got 13 or 14 years experience on Jeff, or something like that, but there is not an awful lot John does that Jeff can't and you would hope in six months to a year's time Jeff will be doing what John does anyway.
"That still doesn't mean we don't need the likes of John in to get us through."
The Republic of Ireland are in the Under-19s finals for the first time since 2002 and they have been drawn in the same group as Greece, the Czech Republic and hosts Romania.
They start against Greece on July 20 and face the Czech Republic (July 23) and Romania (July 26).
The top two teams will qualify from each group and the semi-finals are on July 29 and the final on August 1.
Spain, Turkey, Serbia and Belgium are in the other group.
Derby have first-team friendlies against Burton Albion (July 16), Macclesfield Town (July 19), Morecambe (July 22), Crewe (July 26), Exeter City (July 30) and Aston Villa (August 3).