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"He wants us to express ourselves" - Conor Masterson on Ireland, Kenny & Van Dijk

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

10:18 12 Sep 2019

Conor Masterson has said that the Ireland under-21s are dedicated to enjoying their football, and explained how Virgil van Dijk helped his game to develop whilst at Liverpool.

Masterson was released by the Reds earlier this year, and has since signed for Queen's Park Rangers in the Championship. He has yet to play a senior game for the club, with Grant Hall and Yoann Barbet anchoring the centre of defence.

Masterson has, however, been involved in a successful period for the Republic of Ireland under-21s, with Stephen Kenny at the helm. He started the match against Sweden on Tuesday evening, where he scored himself and Troy Parrott scored an impressive double.

It was Stephen Kenny's influence that Masterson was keen to praise, particularly stylistically.

"He wants us to play football, he wants the two centre-backs to spread and for us to play through the middle. He wants to play an exciting brand of football, with technical and tactical qualities that suit the team. I think it's working wonders."

"We just want to express ourselves. Stephen spoke a lot about it against Sweden, about controlling the game. We knew that if he could control the ball and control the game, that we could hurt [Sweden], because we have the talent up the pitch. It really came off."

As for Masterson's personal focus, his is both broad and narrow at the same time.

"What I am focusing on is becoming a top centre-half - strong in the air, a good communicator, leading. Stephen is bringing that out of me."

Masterson believes that the tutelage of Kenny, important as it is currently, will also bring future benefits at international level.

"We are actually lucky because he is getting a look at us right now, and he knows what we can do. He is working with us, inside out, for ten days straight. He knows the type of players we are, and it is important for us as players to work our hardest and show the talents we have."

That is not the only tuition that Masterson has received - the holder of the UEFA Men's Player of the Year award, Virgil Van Dijk.

"It was unbelievable, working with these players day in and day out for six months. I was living the dream!"

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