Wednesday 24 May 2017

Long a doubt for Euro clash after horror tackle

West Brom's Shane Long leaves the field after picking up an injury early in yesterday's win over Aston Villa at Villa Park. Photo: Nick Potts
West Brom's Shane Long leaves the field after picking up an injury early in yesterday's win over Aston Villa at Villa Park. Photo: Nick Potts

DION FANNING

Shane Long is a major doubt for Ireland's play-off against Estonia in three weeks after he was taken off with suspected ligament damage at Villa Park yesterday.

The challenge by Aston Villa's Alan Hutton during West Brom's 2-1 win enraged Long's manager, Roy Hodgson, who claimed that the tackle could have left the striker with "two broken legs".

Hutton was booked for a subsequent touchline tackle on Long, who was replaced after 20 minutes.

"I'm very pleased with the result and the performance but very disappointed about Shane Long's injury. It was a wicked challenge," Hodgson said.

"I'm angered still by the challenge so, before any of you start talking to me about red cards, if ever I've seen a challenge that merited a red card, it was Hutton on Long."

Long last night said he was hopeful that he could still be fit in time. Long said the club's physios and medical staff have examined the injury but admitted that he fears ligament damage and faces an anxious wait.

"Hopefully it's not as bad as they think," he told RTE. "I'm just not sure yet. I'll go for a scan on Monday when the swelling goes down."

Aston Villa's manager, Alex McLeish, defended his player. "I have seen it on the video. Shane Long was maybe favourite to get it but I thought Hutton has gone for the ball. He's collided on the follow-through and that's what's injured Shane Long," he said.

Hodgson was concerned by the tackle and the affect it will have on his team. "We are a small squad and to lose players for long periods of time is going to affect us," he said. "Maybe the scan will show it wasn't as bad as all that. We don't think it is a cruciate knee ligament injury, which is good.

"But there are a lot of other ligaments in knees which can keep you out for a long time. It is a relatively serious injury."

Long was disappointed to be left out of the starting line- up for Ireland's game against Armenia but was in devastating form for West Brom in their win against Wolves last weekend.

He had previously been selected ahead of Kevin Doyle for the game against Slovakia but withdrew through injury. Simon Cox was selected ahead of him and Jonathan Walters was sent on instead of him against Armenia.

With Kevin Doyle suspended for the first leg, Trapattoni would have hoped to use Long in next month's games.

Robbie Keane said last week he hopes to have recovered from injury to play in LA Galaxy's play-off game the week before the first leg but match fitness will be a worry.

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