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Irish stars hit scoring form in timely boost for Mick McCarthy ahead of Euro playoff

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(l-r) Callum Robinson, Shane Long and Enda Stevens were all on target for their clubs on Saturday

(l-r) Callum Robinson, Shane Long and Enda Stevens were all on target for their clubs on Saturday

(l-r) Callum Robinson, Shane Long and Enda Stevens were all on target for their clubs on Saturday

Shane Long confirmed he was ready for an Ireland's recall ahead of the crunch Euro 2020 playoff in Slovakia next month as he scored for Southampton in their 2-0 win against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Long, who had scored just one Premier League goal all season prior to his opener against Villa, has been left out of recent Republic of Ireland squads by boss Mick McCarthy, but will have alerted the Ireland boss after he fired home from close range to give the Saints the lead at St Mary's Stadium.

"We are creating chances now and it gives our strikers the chances to score, with Shane getting the goal today," said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl. "He is always an important player for us and it was nice for him to get the goal."

Southampton also handed a first Premier League start to Ireland under-19 star Will Smallbone, who won praise from his manager for a solid display.

"He showed why I trust him because on the ball he is a fantastic player," stated Hasenhüttl. "He has a good view of everything on the pitch and could not be happier than to see him playing. It is always a brave decision to give a young lad a chance, but it was the right game for him to play. He showed today that he can be a big hope for the future.

"He has fantastic technique, left and right-footed and he covers a lot of distance on the pitch. With more games, he can get much better."

Ireland full-back Enda Stevens gave Sheffield United the lead with a stunning strike in their 1-1 draw with Brighton, but Blades boss Chris Wilder confirmed the full-back picked up an injury that meant he had to be taken off at half-time with a groin injury.

"We'll assess him but hopefully he's not out for too long," Wilder said after the 1-1 draw. "He's an important player for us and losing Enda was a bit of a blow for us.

"We're not a group to moan and groan about injuries. We get on with it. Hopefully he's not out for too long."

In the Championship, Callum Robinson was once again on target for table-toppers West Brom in their 3-0 victory at Bristol City. Ireland midfielder Alan Browne also scored Preston's winning goal from the penalty spot in their 2-1 win over Hull City while on-loan Birmingham striker Scott Hogan grabbed a last minute equaliser for the Blues to salvage a 3-3 draw with Sheffield Wednesday.

Online Editors