Conor Hourihane has pinpointed the exact moment when he wanted out at Aston Villa knowing his game-time was limited. The Cork midfielder joined Swansea a fortnight ago and has scored two in two in the Championship already having started – and completed – both games under new boss Steve Cooper. Hourihane, meanwhile, grew increasingly frustrated at Villa having lost his place following the arrival of Ross Barkley in October. However, with Barkley out injured, it was when Dean Smith told him that Jacob Ramsey was starting ahead of him at Wolves in December that he knew his time was up – for the time being at least.
Hourihane was asked if something triggered his loan departure from Villa,
Conor Hourihane said: “Listen, I’m always honest and it was when we played Wolves away. Ross was injured and the gaffer played Jacob Ramsey ahead of me, the young lad from the academy which I was very disappointed with. That was probably the moment where I thought, ‘I’m going to struggle here a little bit moving forward’. Ever since then I haven’t played at all with Jacob in front of me. Listen, Jacob’s a very good player. A very young player with a lot of talent but I thought it was a harsh decision on myself at the time. The gaffer actually came out afterwards and said it was probably harsh to leave me out. The lads went onto win the game so his decision was probably justified but that was the trigger for me to think I might be in a little bit of trouble here.”
On the move to south Wales, Hourihane revealed that Swansea had been in touch just a week or so after his snub at Wolves while he did hope a Premier League club would come in for him in January.
Conor Hourihane: “In my head a little bit I was hoping there was a club in the Premier League to come along but it wasn’t the case,” Hourihane said. “It’s tough in the Premier League because you can only have two Premier League loans in any squad. A lot of the Premier League teams have two loans already so it’s not easy to get a Premier League move in January. That was a factor why Premier League clubs didn’t come calling. Villa were fantastic with me, though, they understood my frustrations and have added value to my career and the best thing for me to do was to go and showcase myself again and add value to myself come the summer time. They were brilliant with me to let it all happen.”
Conor Hourihane added: “I could have taken the easy option and sat around at Villa until the end of the season and collect my money, but that’s just not the type of guy I am. It’s not the character I am and it doesn’t sit well with me. When I wasn’t getting the game-time and was kind of told by the club that I wouldn’t play as much as I’d like, it was definitely something I wanted to try and do – to get out and play until the end of the season. It was probably one of the most frustrating [periods] I’ve had for a long time in my career, if I’m being honest. I’ve been very fortunate in my career in terms of playing regularly for the last six or seven years, so it’s kind of the first period I’ve had where I’ve had maybe two months without playing. I found it difficult, I’m not going to lie about that. I wanted to play, I was itching to play. Whenever I’ve played in the Premier League I’ve felt that I’ve done OK and rose to the level, so I felt a little bit hard done by from that point of view. The club brought in some very good players and spent a lot of money. Some clubs aren’t in a great position financially but Villa definitely aren’t one of those clubs. The owners are very wealthy, they can spend a lot of money and they have done that on players. Ross [Barkley] obviously came into the central midfield area, a fantastic player with huge attributes to be a top-quality player – he has been and will be moving forward. It’s going to be tough to stay at Villa and stay at that level but it’s something I’ll keep fighting for. Hopefully, this loan period can be a positive step from that point of view. We’ll just see what happens. It’s great to be a part of that football club, it’s a terrific football club, it’s huge. The players that they bring in, it’s a pleasure to play with a lot of them, so we’ll see what happens come the summer. First and foremost, let’s make this loan period a successful one and then go back and re-evaluate. Personally, I’d have liked Conor to stay but Conor’s been to see me a few times and intimated that he wants to play football games. That’s one of the reasons why I love Conor so much, he’s never happy when he’s not playing games.”
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