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Conor Hourihane reveals Ireland ambitions led to his Aston Villa exit

Conor Hourihane

An unsurprising revelation from Conor Hourihane.

Ireland international Conor Hourihane admitted that his desire to continue playing international football ended up being a big factor in his departure from Aston Villa.

Hourihane left Villa to join Swansea City on loan initially, before then joining Sheffield United ahead of the start of this season.

And while he is still under contract at Villa Park, he is unlikely to force his way into Steven Gerrard’s plans at the club, as he remains out on loan.

Conor Hourihane reveals Ireland ambitions led to his Aston Villa exit.

His last game for Villa came in a big Carabao Cup win away to Barrow, but the Corkonian knew his time at the club as a first-team regular was up long before then.

“It’s a difficult one, isn’t it?,” he told the Athletic. “Being on the bench for Villa in the Premier League is nothing to be ashamed of. I keep going back to me being me, I always wanted to play.

“I knew I wasn’t always going to play, but when it turns into three, four, five, six or seven games, you think where is this going. I might have got an appearance every few games but..”

And while he knew he was not going to get the minutes he wanted at Villa, he was also wary that it would have an impact on his chances for Stephen Kenny’s Ireland.

“Another big thing for me was that I wanted to keep playing to stay involved with the Ireland team. I feel like I am established now at that level, with over 30 caps.

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“But you know, you always want to play when you go on those trips. Minutes, and getting match minutes is big to get into that team. That was another thing that stuck in my head.

“When Ross [Barkley] came in, that made things a bit more difficult for me to get into the team. But I got to the Premier League and played there with Aston Villa. That is something I will always be proud of.”

Conor Hourihane.

Currently, Hourihane is enjoying a relatively successful loan at Sheffield United, alongside his Ireland teammates John Egan and Enda Stevens.

The Blades, after a poor start to the season, have rallied in recent weeks, and are now just four points off the playoff positions.

Next up for them is a clash on New Years Day against Middlesbrough, who are set to sign Hourihane’s international teammate, Aaron Connolly on loan from Premier League side Brighton.

Kick-off is at 12.30 pm.

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