Martin O'Neill names Kevin Long in Ireland squad for crucial qualifier against Austria but no room for Sean Maguire
MARTIN O'Neill says that new recruit Kevin Long could get a chance to prove his worth at international level in a three-game series of matches next month.
Burnley defender Long (26) was today named in a 37-man squad by O'Neill who has friendly games against Mexico and Uruguay to prepare for the June 11th qualifier at home to Austria.
The former Cork City player has been held back by injuries, as he suffered a season-ending injury on the occasion of his Premier League debut last season, but Long has broken into the Burnley side towards the end of the current season and was watched by assistant manager Roy Keane.
"Roy saw him play last week and said he wouldn't discount him," O'Neill said today.
"He's a player who has had a host of injuries, I will keep an eye on that but Roy said not to discount him, he didn't do too bad in the [Burnley] game and if he plays next weekend, in the last game of the Premier League season, we will see.
"It's nice that he got games and with Ciaran Clark out it gives competition for places," added O'Neill, who is also keen to see the uncapped Liam Kelly (Reading).
Kelly, a current U21 international, was called up for the Wales/Iceland double header in March but was unable to travel, though O'Neill hopes that Kelly can recover from illness to feature for Reading in tomorrow's playoff semi-final second leg, though Kelly faces a battle to make the final squad.
"He is a nice tidy footballer, small, you'd hope that one so young has a future ahead, but when I narrow the squad down I will be looking at players who have plenty of experience at international level going into this game against Austria. This game is so, so important for us,"
Stoke City defender Marc Wilson makes a welcome return to the international fold.
Seamus Coleman (leg), Ciaran Clark (knee) and David Meyler (knee) are missing through injury.
O'Neill confirmed that a selection of Championship players will meet for a three-day training camp in Fota Island resort on Tuesday, May 23 to prepare for the games.
A player that is not among the 37 is Cork City's in-form frontman Sean Maguire but O'Neill admitted that he was monitoring his form.
"It's good to see Maguire doing well, but there are a few players ahead of him in terms of experience," he said.
Another absentee is Aston Villa striker Scott Hogan who is yet to declare for Ireland but O'Neill has revealed that he is not hopeful the 25-year-old will do so after a "very short conversation" with his agent.
"I really can't give you much of an update, I've left it with his agent and the lad himself," he added.
More to follow
Republic of Ireland Squad
Goalkeepers: Colin Doyle (Bradford City), Rob Elliot (Newcastle United), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (West Ham United)
Defenders: Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce (Derby County), Paul McShane (Reading), Shane Duffy (Brighton & Hove Albion), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Andy Boyle (Preston North End), John Egan (Brentford), Marc Wilson (West Bromwich Albion), Kevin Long, Stephen Ward (Burnley), Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady (Everton), James McCarthy (Everton), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady (Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City), Eunan O'Kane (Leeds United), Darron Gibson (Sunderland), Liam Kelly (Reading), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), Daryl Horgan (Preston North End), Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen)
Forwards: Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), David McGoldrick (Ipswich Town), Daryl Murphy (Newcastle United), Shane Long (Southampton), Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen)
International Friendly: Republic of Ireland v Mexico, MetLife Stadium, New Jersey, KO 20:00, June 1 (1am Irish Time)
Three International Friendly: Republic of Ireland v Uruguay, Aviva Stadium, KO 18:00, June 4
2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Republic of Ireland v Austria, Aviva Stadium, KO 17:00, June 11