Barnsley captain Conor Hourihane believes Roy Keane’s perception of him is holding him back for the Republic of Ireland.
The 25-year-old was under the watchful eye of the Manchester United legend on two occasions as a youngster.
Hourihane was coming through the ranks at Sunderland whilst his fellow Irishman was first-team manager and he was brought in at Ipswich Town when Keane was at the helm there, too.
The central midfielder never made a big enough impression on the 45-year-old to get into the first team back then.
Hourihane has made two provisional international squads, but has missed out on the respective matchday squads on both occasions.
“He remembers me as a 16 to 19-year-old boy when I wasn’t ready to play football,” admitted Hourihane, who has netted three times for the Reds this season.
“Hecky has said this to me and he makes a good point.
“He’s watched me in one game over the last however many years and you can’t perform at your peak in every single game.
“It’s just one of those things and I’m sure he’ll come to one of the games where I play to my potential and play well.
“If you ask Hecky which two games we haven’t performed well in this season he’d probably say Reading and Brighton and they’re the two [Keane and Martin O’Neill] were at. From that point of view I’m probably unlucky.”
Hourihane is fully focused on performing for Barnsley but admits it would be a dream come true to one day don the emerald green shirt and make his debut.
He added: “I want to make my debut. That would be the pinnacle for me to represent my country. It is disappointing that I’ve been in two provisional squads now and not made the final matchday squads as you would call it. I’ve spoken to a few players previously who are in the squad now and they said they were in three or four provisional squads before they got in.
“I just need to keep working hard with Barnsley, keep my head down and hopefully I’ll make the final squad.”
“I’ve taken a few baby steps and hopefully I’ll take a bigger step in the future.”
Elsewhere the Reds will take on Carlisle United at home in the third round of the FA Youth Cup on Friday December 16.