Long hoping to rekindle partnership with Doyle
SHANE LONG has admitted he would love to partner Kevin Doyle up front for Ireland, but fears they are fighting for one position.
The Tipperary native's omission from Giovanni Trapattoni's starting team this year has been a big talking point, particularly in light of his outstanding form for West Brom. However, the 25-year-old says that he understands the manager's position given his options in the striking department.
Nevertheless, Long says he would relish a link-up with his good friend Doyle and feels they are capable of forming an effective partnership even though Steve Coppell was also reluctant to use them together during their time at Reading.
"I remember that year in the Premier League, we played three or four games together and it was brilliant," said Long last night.
"Ever since then, it's only been bits and pieces. The first time in a long time was against Oman (in September) and I thought we did very well. I think we do well off each other, but there are other options there as well. I think it could be a good partnership."
Long conceded that he 'lost the head' when he was brought off the bench in the October defeat with Germany, but says it was to do with the scoreline rather than his own standing.
"I'm kind of a bad loser and we were losing fairly heavily," he said. "I think it would be disrespectful for me to say that I should be starting. I'm good friends with the lads. I room with Kevin and I think it's between us for one spot.
"You've got to look at the options he (Trapattoni) has. Robbie Keane, I've lost count how many goals he's scored. There's Kevin, Jon Walters, Coxy, Andy Keogh. I've told him that I'm ready whenever he wants me. It's a great honour putting on that green shirt."
But he added that Trapattoni has not spoken to him about his exclusion, instead making his plans clear by lining out with his preferred team shape in the build-up to each match.
Long spoke warmly of former assistant Liam Brady, who left to concentrate on his duties at Arsenal.
"He helped with a lot of translations, and he was more than welcome in the squad. He got involved in a few card games and had the banter. He had a big role at Arsenal and it can take a lot out of you, so I'd say that had a big impact on his decision."
The topic of Long's short-term future has been a talking point recently, with Liverpool mentioned as a possible suitor.
While the striker said that Anfield is his favourite Premier League ground to visit, he dismissed the speculaton.
"Obviously, you hear all the rumours going around, but I think I'm a long way from a Liverpool side yet," he stressed. "Hopefully, there'll be a step up somewhere down the line."
He would like to play Champions League football and pointed out that it could be attainable for West Brom this year, despite a three-game losing run. "I watched Celtic beat Barcelona, and everybody wants to be a part of it. But the way we're going at West Brom, we could be there ourselves next season."