It's time for the Long exile to end
It's a while now since Shane Long last played for Ireland but the play-off against Slovakia next month is the time for him to come in from the cold.
Maybe Shane was hard done by in not making the Ireland squad last year.
If you look at his scoring record over the last year or 18 months, it's not great and maybe the manager was looking at that, thinking that he needed goals and needed to look around.
So Mick McCarthy has tried out a lot of players up front with Ireland, he's given young players opportunities, but when it comes to a big game like this, a play-off away from home, you need players who can handle the pressure, and Shane is certainly good enough to do that.
If we do qualify for the Euros, Mick can look to the younger strikers in the months before the finals to see if they can impress, but Mick knows what he needs right now.
And going to Slovakia for a one-off game is made for Shane, especially as no one else has come in and claimed that centre-forward role for themselves.
He's been in the Ireland squad for 13 years now so he knows what it takes in a match like this one in Slovakia.
It will have hurt Shane to be left out before. When you are not doing so well at your club, not playing every week or not scoring, if you're a striker, you need a bit of a pick-me-up and you get that from being in the Ireland squads.
When you're finding things hard at club level, it does give you a boost to come in with your country and maybe Shane would have felt that getting into the Ireland squad, playing and doing well, could have given him the lift he needed to get things going at Southampton again.
He hasn't been able to get into the squad and that will have hurt, but he's still around. A lesser player would have drifted away, but Shane kept going, kept playing and is playing well now.
I don't know if it's a confidence thing with Shane, some players are like that, they have a long goal drought, but what you are guaranteed to get from Shane is 100 percent effort. He will run those channels, hassle defenders and do the hard work.
He had spells where he just couldn't score. He's a centre-forward and people judge strikers on their goals record, but that's not fair. Shane often played in games where he did so much work that people didn't appreciate, people didn't see, that he made things happen for other players.
He didn't score so people on the outside would say 'Shane Long was rubbish again', but he often had to play wide right, he was the one working the defenders to open things up for other players and that wasn't recognised.
I loved it when Shane Long was a team-mate with Ireland, but I hated playing against him.
You always know what you'll get from Shane. You don't put him in the team expecting him to score loads of goals, but you can be guaranteed that he will raise the tempo of the game. If he's coming off the bench, the fans get behind him as he just never stops running, never stops harassing defenders.
As a defender with Ireland, I really appreciated players like Shane, so often with the Irish team it was the defenders who were under pressure.
You're trying to deal with attack after attack and you know that if you get the ball forward, someone like Shane might win a throw-in up at the other end, just to give you that breather you need. It's invaluable.
Of course, during my time in the Premier League, Shane was horrible to play against.
I had many battles with him at club level and none of them were enjoyable. If you saw Shane in the opposing side, you knew you'd not get a second on the ball. He's very quick, never stops running, puts in a tackle and is strong in the air.
He's scored in big games for Ireland before and Slovakia away will not faze him.
In fact, he'd relish it, coming in and being the hero to help his country qualify.