Martin O’Neill has admitted Jeff Hendrick may have set the bar too high for himself with his performances at the Euro 2016 finals.
Hendrick, along with Robbie Brady, starred for the Republic of Ireland in France as they made it to the last 16, where they gave the hosts an almighty scare before bowing out with their heads held high.
However, O’Neill believes the heights they hit on that stage have left people expecting too much of them, with neither man having been able to rediscover that kind of form on a consistent basis for their country since.
Speaking alongside as he prepared for Saturday night’s Nations League clash with Denmark at the Aviva Stadium, the Ireland boss said: “He was part of a side that actually did go 11 games with one defeat, and we never lost in a game away from home.
“We went to some difficult places – Serbia, in fact he scored a goal out in Serbia – so he had reached a very high performance level in the Euros, and so the expectation on himself and Robbie Brady and the likes of Seamus Coleman did become very high.
“It became high with all of us and I think it became high with himself as well. Sometimes whatever you do, maybe you don’t reach that sort of level, but that was very high.
“I just think you have to give him a little bit of slack here. He’s done exceptionally well. There are some games where he didn’t do so well, but the very fact is that we’re judging him now on the performances that he made out in France.”
Burnley midfielder Hendrick has become a fixture in O’Neill’s team and while he acknowledges the need for consistency, he insists no one expects more from him than he does from himself.
Asked to assess his form for the Republic since the Euros, he said: “I have played in a few different positions, we have played some really hard opposition. I think I’ve done well in some games; other games, I’ve not done well.
“At the end of the day, I expect a lot from myself as well going into games and I haven’t been happy with a lot of my performances, so I’m trying to put that right – I’ve said that before and I’m still trying to do that.”