Long takes a positive outlook after 45-minute cameo
The most obvious candidates for Republic of Ireland selection haven’t always been the men manager Giovanni Trapattoni turns to for competitive matches.
The Italian has his favourites and remained loyal to them through a period that will forever be remembered as the annus horribilis for Trapattoni’s Ireland.
At least there are signs of this changing in the last outing of 2012.
We asked Shane Long if his 45-minute cameo, after a throbbing and relentless season leading the line for West Bromwich Albion, was enough to finally send him up the strikers’ pecking order?
“I hope so,” said Long. “I feel like I’m playing well at club level and I think they were fairly happy with my performance tonight, but he’s a few different options to choose from.
“There’s a lot of strikers in the squad and everyone’s playing well for their clubs so I’ll go back to West Brom and hopefully I’ll get my chance on Saturday, and keep putting in the performances.”
Just stay fit.
Two positive outcomes
There are two more reasons for a positive outlook, despite last night’s one-nil defeat, with the classy combination of Everton’s Séamus Coleman and Hull City’s Robbie Brady striking fear down Greece’s left side.
“I thought Séamus was tremendous tonight,” Long continued. “He offers us that option out wide and Robbie’s very lively, when he comes inside Séamus is always overlapping.
“So it’s a good combination. At the same time we’ve Aidan [McGeady] to come back, and there are different options for the manager as well but I don’t think the lads did themselves any harm tonight.”
Long and Brady were benched at half-time but Coleman lasted the full 90 minutes, ensuring a sustained attacking presence down the right despite James McClean’s lack of penetration.
Coleman looked every inch the Premier League full back he has evolved into in recent times.
And surprisingly, the licence to raid was stamped by Trapattoni.
“The manager encouraged me to get forward, there was a lot of space in front of me and when Robbie would cut inside on his stronger left foot it gave me room to get forward. It is part of my game and that’s what I tried to do.”
And the slick interchanging with Brady? “We are not used to playing with each other and it will take us time to gel probably.”
They look to have gelled already. But genuine talent always gravitates towards each other.
They look the obvious candidates to become permanent fixtures in Trapattoni’s starting XI for the qualifier in Sweden next March.
Glenn Whelan also confirmed his premature departure last night, due the reoccurring hamstring strain, was more precautionary, with an eye on Stoke City’s game against West Ham next Monday.
But the elder statesman in this developing squad knows what must be done to get the public supporting them again and it didn’t happen last night.
“We knew coming into the game we wanted to give the fans something to cheer about and hopefully get over the Germany game and the Euros. We know it is going to play on people’s minds but it is up to ourselves to get the crowd back and give them something to cheer about.
“Obviously, everyone after the Germany result heads were down. That was it, our campaign was over. But that wasn’t the case. No one has given us the credit that we deserve for the Faroes. It was a better result than people have thought but nobody talked about that because of the result a few days beforehand.
“We know what we have to do and we are still in with a shout [of qualifying] so you never know.”