Sheffield United: Why Conor Hourihane was hailed by Republic of Ireland boss after leaving Aston Villa

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has hailed Conor Hourihane’s decision to join Sheffield United on loan, insisting that the midfielder was “not happy to sit in the background” at Aston Villa.

Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 12:32 pm

Hourihane joined United earlier in the season on a season-long loan deal, giving the former Barnsley man a chance to put himself in the shop window ahead of the expiry of his contract at Villa Park this summer.

After playing only once for his parent club this season, a 6-0 cup win over Barrow, Hourihane goes into United’s clash with Reading on Friday hoping to make his 35th appearance of a campaign reignited by his move to South Yorkshire.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

He has found starts at Bramall Lane hard to come by in recent weeks, owing to the good form of John Fleck, but came off the bench and looked dangerous at times in United’s goalless draw with Bournemouth at the weekend.

Jeff Hendrick is another member of Kenny’s squad who moved on loan earlier this season, joining QPR from Newcastle when it became clear his gametime in the north east would be limited.

“I don't think I've just given them an ultimatum,” Kenny said of the pair, as quoted by the Irish Independent.

“I think, to be fair, they're just two lads who want to play and they're at the stage of their career where they want to be somewhere where they're playing.

Conor Hourihane is on loan at Sheffield United from Aston Villa: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

"I'll have conversations, of course, but they're not two lads who are happy to sit in the background.

"Jeff missed the weekend with a hamstring strain, he'll be out for a week and I think he might miss two games. I just got a report from the doctor at QPR on that.

"But they'll want to play themselves and they both played an amount of football over the last while as well.

“Jeff chose not to stay at Newcastle and moved to QPR late in the day. Obviously, Newcastle only agreed to release him very late in the day because they signed players late in the window and then you become available.

“Conor at Sheffield United has not played every week but is still playing a number of games. He came on at the weekend.”