Thursday 21 September 2017

Long eager to earn starting berth after Euros bench frustration

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

SHANE LONG has admitted that his Euro 2012 experience was frustrating, but admits that it could have been worse.

The Tipperary man was restricted to substitute appearances against Croatia and Italy, and hopes to make a far bigger impact in the future.

However, he expressed sympathy with the seven members of the Irish squad who didn't see any action at all.

His pal Stephen Hunt was particularly frustrated by his inactivity, and Darron Gibson was another who expected to be involved at some point.

Long impressed in the preliminaries, yet found himself behind his West Brom colleague Simon Cox in Giovanni Trapattoni's pecking order. Jonathan Walters was also involved in all three matches.

"The Euros was an amazing experience," said Long. "Just to be around the whole set-up was fantastic. It's just disappointing we couldn't give our fans a little more to shout about results-wise.

"Not getting more minutes on the pitch was frustrating at the time, but then there were seven lads who didn't even get an appearance so it could have been a lot worse.

"It was just amazing to play for Ireland at the Euros. Next time, if we can qualify for Brazil, I'll hopefully have two good seasons under my belt going there and be really pushing the lads for a starting position."

Long (pictured) is preparing to begin his second season at West Brom under a new manager, Steve Clarke, and he was buoyed by a call from the newly appointed Scot during his time in Poland.

After a flying start to life in the midlands, injuries put a halt to his progress last term and he's looking for better fortune this time around.

"Hopefully the new gaffer sees me as a starting No 9," he says. "He seems to know the players well and knows what I'm all about.

"He knows how to utilise me and what my strengths and weaknesses are. It's a new test for me."

Irish Independent

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