Thursday 25 December 2014

Long focused on form in uncertainty

Published 16/11/2013 | 14:56

Shane Long is just concentrating on football
Shane Long is just concentrating on football

Shane Long is happy to concentrate on his football despite admitting he does not know where his future may lie.

The 26-year-old Ireland striker came close to joining promoted Hull on deadline day in August, but despite receiving assurances from manager Steve Clarke that he is wanted at the Hawthorns, talks over a new deal have stalled.

Long, who scored his first goal of the season in the 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw at Chelsea last Saturday, has been linked with a move away in January, but for the time being is thinking of nothing other than cementing his place in the team.

He said: "I have always been wanted there. The gaffer said he wants me, I am a big part of his plans and I enjoy playing for him as well.

"I am just concentrating on my football at West Brom and if a new contract doesn't get sorted out, then I'll have to look at pastures new.

"But at the moment, I am letting that take care of itself."

Long has started only five league games for the Baggies so far this season with injury interrupting his progress.

However, he is currently the man in possession and knows he needs to increase his goal tally if he is to remain there.

He said: "I picked up an injury after the second or third game of the season and missed out for two or three games, and then the lads were flying, so it was hard to get back into the side.

"But I got the nod against Crystal Palace and then again against Chelsea, and I feel like I am playing well and hopefully I can keep my place in there.

"You can do so well on the pitch, but it's goals which keep you on there, so I am trying to tighten up on that and hopefully I can keep scoring between now and the end of the season."

The former Reading man did just that on Friday night, this time in the green of Ireland, when he came off the bench to cement a 3-0 friendly victory over Latvia with a 79th-minute strike.

He could not have chosen a better moment to do so in new manager Martin O'Neill's first game at the helm and with assistant Roy Keane looking on.

O'Neill started with skipper Robbie Keane playing as a lone striker and if he persists with that system, Long knows he will have to do something special to get ahead of a man who claimed his 62nd senior international goal in the game.

He said: "Robbie has got the record that he has - 62 goals, is it now? - and it's obviously going to be tough to get in there.

"But I'll just have to bide my time, like I have done, come off the bench and try to make an impact and show what I can do.

"But it's a whole new set of players for the gaffer. He only knows two or three of us from playing underneath him, so first impressions are very important and hopefully I gave a good impression of myself."

Press Association

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