Thursday 17 August 2017

Green invasion at Burnley will benefit Ireland, insists Brady

Jon Walters joins four other Irish internationals at Turf Moor. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Jon Walters joins four other Irish internationals at Turf Moor. Photo: SPORTSFILE

John Fallon

Long gone is the 1980's era of Irish players colonising Liverpool and Manchester United, but the quintet of Martin O'Neill's squad at Burnley feel their cohesion can aid the ongoing World Cup mission.

Jon Walters became the latest component of Sean Dyche's green brigade by signing from Stoke City earlier this month.

And while Glenn Whelan may opt against the same journey in favour of more certainty of games in the Championship, the green invasion of Turf Moor is well and truly underway.

"The Irish are taking over!" vowed Kevin Long, the longest serving of the crew that also includes Stephen Ward and last season's acquisitions; Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady.

All five started Ireland's last game against Austria in June, and Long expects to see plenty of Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane during a campaign which kicks off at Chelsea on August 12.

Not for the first time under O'Neill, Brady and Walters combined to snaffle the equaliser which dented Austria's hopes of catching World Cup Group D co-leaders Ireland. Brady believes a legion of Irish being at one club can be of benefit to O'Neill's side on the campaign run-in.

"We were all talking the other day about how good it is for the Irish team having us together at one club," said the winger. "The more Irish we get in, the handier it is for Ireland because we know how each other play."

Ensuring he remains in Dyche's central defence is paramount for Long if he's also to keep hold of the berth he manned alongside Shane Duffy against Austria for the double-header with Georgia and Serbia in six weeks' time.

Having started the final three games of the season, he has his eye on filling the void left by Michael Keane's departure to Everton but aware Dyche could delve into the transfer market before the window closes next month. Within the current squad, he'll have to out-muscle one of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski to be granted a start against the Premier League champions.

"Michael Keane and Ben had been the central-defensive partnership for the past two seasons, playing almost every single game," said the former Cork City centre-back.

"With Keano gone now, there's a place up for grabs and there's three of us battling for two spots.

"Realistically the manager will probably go out and get another centre-back but it's up to me to prove I'm good enough to be in the team."

Irish Independent

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