Hearts’ new defender Conor Shaughnessy believes the club can help him earn a dream Republic of Ireland call-up to emulate previous loanee Jimmy Dunne.
The Leeds United centre-back signed a six-month loan agreement at Tynecastle Park on Monday before flying with the club to their winter training camp in Spain.
He replaces Dunne, who was recalled by parent club Burnley and has now been loaned to Sunderland. Dunne’s performances in Scotland brought him his first full international call-up by then-Republic coach Martin O’Neill last November.
As a fellow Under-21 internationalist, Shaughnessy believes Hearts can help him realise the same dream with his country. “That is a massive thing for me and it happened for Jimmy when he was at Hearts. A call up to the Irish national squad is a bit of a dream for me,” he explained.
“Hopefully one day I can get called into the Irish set up and signing for Hearts can help boost my chances of that happening.”
Shaughnessy admitted he has a considerable void to fill given the impression Dunne made in Edinburgh. The 21-year-old performed with assurance in 14 appearances and Hearts fans were disappointed he did not return.
Shaughnessy, 22, was brought in from Leeds because he has a similar profile to his predecessor. “I have heard a lot about what Jimmy did here. I watched a few of his games and he will be a tough one to replace,” said Shaughnessy.
“I’ve never met Jimmy and we were never in the same Irish Under-21 squads. I am coming here and hopefully I can do a similar job. This was a great opportunity for Jimmy and also for me to develop my game all round. It is the next step that I need in my career at my age.
“It just shows that a young player can come in and make an impression in a short space of time.
“It has improved Jimmy and he is now looked upon as a more senior player after his spell at Hearts. Hopefully Jimmy can kick on from there and the same thing happens to me.”