SHANE LONG is determined to keep up his scoring streak after he ended a long goal drought by hitting the net four times in his last four games for club and country.
The 26-year-old struck twice early in the first half to give West Bromwich Albion a 2-0 lead in their local derby at home to Aston Villa, though the game ended on a sour note for Long and his teammates as Villa clawed their way back into the match to earn a 2-2 draw.
Long is now enjoying a superb run of form with four goals in four outings, a run that started with his headed goal against Chelsea just before the international break and then continued when he finished off from Séamus Coleman's cross to claim Ireland's third goal in a 3-0 win at home to Latvia.
The Tipperary man drew a blank while on Ireland duty in Poznan last week but he rediscovered his shooting boots with that double strike against Villa.
That's a welcome run of form for a player who, before the Chelsea game two weeks ago, had gone 11 games without a goal for his club, a run stretching back to last May, and now he's just relieved to see the goals go in.
"It's always nice to score goals so I want the run to continue," said Long after the 2-2 draw last night, taking the time to praise teammate Chris Brunt.
"You know when Brunty gets the ball in the middle of the pitch you can make a run in behind and he will more than likely find you.
"I managed to control the first touch nicely, set it on to my left foot and put it into the corner and it was nice to see it hit the net.
"The second one was a loose pass and Nathan Baker forced me wide with good defending, but I saw the keeper go to ground and luckily I was able to beat him with a little 'dink'.
"Nine times out of 10 I might not control the ball like I did," added Long, who insists that his form is not being affected by the lack of progress on contract talks with the club.
"There are no developments yet but there is plenty of time left on my contract and I'm sure the club will think about what's best for them and me. There has been nothing settled yet and I haven't really talked about it much," he said.
"I'm just concentrating on football and training hard, trying to keep my place in the team.
"I try to keep out of it. There are enough things to worry about on the pitch without worrying about things off it. I have always been comfortable here.
"The fans always get behind me in every game and stick with me through good and bad times and I'm always concentrating on my football and letting the rest take care of itself.
"It's not easy staying in the starting XI here with the players we have on the bench, so that's my main aim at the moment."