Friday 19 January 2018

Irish lads' inside info lured me to Hull - Long

Shane Long completed his move from West Bromwich Albion to Hull City yesterday
Shane Long completed his move from West Bromwich Albion to Hull City yesterday
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

SHANE LONG says that "inside info" from the Irish contingent at Hull helped make up his mind that he was joining the right club.

The 26-year-old's on-off switch to Humberside was finally confirmed yesterday and the new man, a serious injury doubt for today's trip to Norwich, claims that gut instinct told him to accept Steve Bruce's advances after West Brom decided to sell for a fee that could rise to £7m.

He also sought advice from international team-mates Robbie Brady, Paul McShane, David Meyler and Stephen Quinn.

Long's wife, Kayleah, had concerns about moving from Birmingham and her husband checked the lie of the land before agreeing to the switch.

FACTOR

"Hull have been really good to me and that was a factor in getting my family up here and I think we will settle in really well," said Long.

"If I'm happy at home, I'm happy on the pitch. I knew a few of the lads here and got some good inside info. I got in touch with them and asked about the club, training and the manager and they all said good things and they are enjoying their side.

"I just want to play football and get into the team. It's a big change, you have to go on gut instincts. I'm looking forward to it as it was a while trying to get it done."

Long's representative, his former boss at Cork City Pat Dolan, kept in touch with Hull after his deadline day move collapsed at the last minute.

That was a difficult time for the player given that he had to plough on in the knowledge that his employers were willing to part company. He is also reported to be aggrieved at the Baggies' subsequent suggestion that he turned down two lucrative contract offers.

"When that fell apart, I concentrated on West Brom, but there was always speculation," said the striker, with a nod to the August drama.

"My agent was working behind the scenes and talking to the club. West Brom accepted the offer and I came up here to see what they had to say and it seemed like a good opportunity.

"Steve Clarke (former West Brom boss) didn't want me to go, but Steve is gone and the club wanted to get the funds in and the only option was for me to leave.

"It shows that he (Steve Bruce) really wants me at the club and it wasn't a panic buy as he had a lot of time to think about it. It gives me confidence that I am what he wants. But there is pressure on me to produce and make sure I follow up on his confidence in me."

If Long misses out this afternoon, he will have to wait until Tuesday week's meeting with Crystal Palace to make his debut. "It's a bit rushed for this weekend and I'm cup-tied for the Southend game," he explained.

"There are a lot of winnable games coming up and, hopefully, we can get the three points at Norwich, get up the league and get safe as soon as possible."

He believes that he shares the same ambition as Hull, citing Bruce's previous recruits Jake Livermore, Tom Huddlestone and the other new face, Nikica Jelavic.

"The club understand they are good enough to be in the Premier League and are adding every transfer window," he stressed. "It's a good sign and hopefully it's money well spent."

That will endear Long to his new fans, although he may have misjudged their mood by posting a Twitter message referring to the 'Hull City Tigers', touching on the unpopular name change that owner Assem Allam is proposing.

There were no shortage of fans on hand to point it out, but they will quickly forgive once he delivers. "It's a new chapter for me, a fresh start and hopefully I can make a good impression," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Aston villa manager Paul Lambert has hinted that his proposed move for Wes Hoolahan is doomed to failure.

Highly regarded Irish U-21 international Jack Grealish is set to return to Notts County on loan for the rest of the season. Grealish was summoned back to Aston Villa for their FA Youth Cup reverse to Liverpool on Wednesday.

Kilkenny native Mikey Drennan has also been given permission to gain first-team experience elsewhere. The striker has linked up with Graham Kavanagh's Carlisle on an initial one-month arrangement.

O'Neill welcomes move

MARTIN O'NEILL has welcomed Shane Long's move to Hull as an opportunity for the striker to start more games.

The 26-year-old was regularly rotated at West Brom and O'Neill is naturally keen for the Tipperary-born striker to play as much as possible with a view to featuring more for Ireland.

"The move presents an opportunity for Shane to play more often and that can only be good for him and by extension us," said O'Neill yesterday.

The Republic of Ireland boss will be at Long's old stomping ground today to watch Reading centre-half Alex Pearce in action for the Royals in their Championship encounter with Bolton.

Roy Keane will be at the Riverside Stadium to watch Shay Given in action for loan club Middlesbrough against Charlton, while goalkeeping coach Seamus McDonagh will be at Birmingham to watch Darren Randolph play against Yeovil.

Irish Independent

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