JEFF Hendrick believes a lack of Europa League football has played a big part in Burnley’s progression this season.

The Clarets are seventh in the Premier League table after an impressive start to the campaign.

Hendrick, set to play for the Republic of Ireland against Georgia today, scored the only goal in the 1-0 win against Everton last time out at Turf Moor.

The early season form marks a real turnaround from last season, the Clarets’ European adventure seeing them stumble out the blocks to be in trouble at the wrong end of the table at the turn of the year.

Wolves have had similar problems this season, but Nuno Espirito Santo’s men did head into the international break on the back of a fine 2-0 win at champions Manchester City.

While most put a brave face on things last season, Hendrick admits the European football that came with finishing seventh in the top flight did take its toll.

“We’ve progressed but I think last year was a bit different,” the midfielder said.

“I know it was frustrating for us as players and maybe the fans, staff and everyone.

“At the start of the season, with the games we had, it was difficult, it was tiring.

“I was talking to my friend at Wolves when we played them and I said, ‘How are you getting on with the European football?’ and he just said he’s constantly tired.

“Without even knowing, the travelling does take it out of you and that’s what happened with us last year.

“Even when we were out of that, we tried to pick the performances up, but it didn’t work.

“Eventually we sat down, we all got on the same track and the performances started to pick up and we got some points on the board, which we did need at the back end of last year.”

Hendrick is likely to win his 52nd international cap in Tbilisi today. 

Mick McCarthy’s squad are top of Group D, two points clear of Denmark and unbeaten so far from five matches with three wins.

Victory away to Georgia would further strengthen the Republic’s position, with Denmark hosting Switzerland.

Ireland then play in Geneva on Tuesday, and will host Denmark in their last fixture next month.

However, with both Denmark and Switzerland still to play bottom team Gibraltar - a three-point banker - the qualification shake-up looks set to be a tense finale which could yet come down to head-to-head results.