Sheffield United midfielder Conor Hourihane believes it’s his and some of the senior professionals’ job at Bramall Lane to support some of the Blades’ younger players, speaking in an interview with the Sheffield Star.
The 30-year-old arrived on a season-long loan deal from Premier League side Aston Villa at the end of last month, all but bringing down the curtain on his career at Villa Park after spending a reasonably successful four years with the top-flight club, with his contract expiring next summer.
Despite being deemed surplus to requirement in the past year, he was instrumental in leading Dean Smith’s side to promotion and played a similar role at Swansea City during the second half of last season.
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He took the Swans within one game of returning to the top tier of English football before their loss to Brentford in May’s Championship play-off final – and will look to go one step further with recently-relegated outfit Sheffield United.
The Republic of Ireland has arrived at Bramall Lane and made an instant impact – but one younger player in Iliman Ndiaye has also played a major role in the Blades’ upturn in form since the international break.
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Connor Hourihane believes he and some of the other experienced pros at Sheffield United have a duty to bring the 21-year-old and other youngsters through at the Lane, saying to The Star: “I heard a lot of the lads talking about him (Ndiaye) and a few of the other boys when I came in.
“He’s obviously really exciting, I could see that in training and then obviously with what happened when he came in.
“We’re all still learning, so there’s obviously a lot for these boys to learn at this stage. What we (the senior players) will do is make sure they have everything they need to make a real go of things. They’ll clearly be getting it from the coaching staff, but we’ll also make sure they keep their standards high in training and off the pitch as well.”
“I think we’ve all got a responsibility to really help these lads come through.
“It’s good for them, it’s good for the club and so it’s also good for us.”
It’s great to see Hourihane get so involved and as the perfect professional, you would expect no less from the Republic of Ireland international who may earn himself a permanent deal at Bramall Lane if he impresses this season.
His deal at Villa Park won’t be extended with others ahead of him in the pecking order – but with a lack of depth in midfield before his arrival, Morgan Gibbs-White unlikely to stay at Bramall Lane beyond next summer due to his obviously quality and Adlene Guedioura only potentially spending one season with the Blades – there’s every chance he could extend his stay in South Yorkshire.
But whether he will earn a new deal will depend not just on his performance on the pitch, but also his conduct and impact off it. If he can retain his consistency and help to bring some of the younger players through, it would almost be foolish not to award him with a new deal.
At 30, he still has at least two or three more years left to give and they risk losing him to another side if they fail to act quickly when the opportunity comes to tie him down. At this stage, they can bide their time with the Irishman only arriving at the end of last month.
But he should definitely be looked at this season with a view to a longer-term stay.