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Long fighting for chance to battle Estonia

SHANE Long has set his sights on forcing his way in the Republic of Ireland's starting line-up for the Euro 2012 play-off with Estonia via his performances for West Brom.

Long was disappointed not to be included in the starting line-up for the decisive group match with Estonia in Dublin last week, which saw Ireland secure a runners-up spot.

But the suspension of Kevin Doyle for the first leg of the play-off, and doubts over the fitness of Robbie Keane, have given Long an extra incentive ahead of next month's fixtures.

He impressed again for the Baggies during Sunday's 2-0 win over Wolves at the Hawthorns.

He said: "It was disappointing not to play against Armenia but it was the right result.

"We now have Estonia in the play-offs and hopefully we can get to the Euros and make it a good summer next year.

"There are a lot of games for West Brom before that so hopefully I can stake my claim in those games.

"People say I've got a great chance to start with Kevin Doyle suspended and Robbie Keane injured.

"Kevin is missing and I would like to think I am a natural replacement for him.

"But I thought I may start the last game as well, and it wasn't to be, so we will have to see what happens.

"Hopefully I can keep doing what I am doing here at West Brom, keep putting in performances, and the Irish manager will take note.

"The manager didn't say why I didn't play against Armenia. He just told me I was on the bench and to make sure to be ready if I was needed."

Long has impressed Albion defender Gareth McAuley with the quality of his performances since moving from Reading during the summer.

McAuley said: "I've played against Longy a few times and he gets around, wins his headers. He's a pest in a good way for us, creates opportunities for other players and gets his own share of goals.

"He puts in a great shift. When he is doing that, we can try and get up the pitch because the opposition are always under pressure. It is great for us that he is doing that. He is a great outlet."