Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Long fast becoming a serious striking option for Ireland

Shane Long's hunger to further his career has only been increased by his emergence as a top striker on the international stage

The Tipperary born Ireland striker scored his sixth goal in 19 senior appearances for 'The Boys In Green' in Tuesday night's 3-2 friendly defeat by World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay, and was also instrumental in winning the penalty which led to his side's second.

Long said: "They came fourth in the World Cup, so they are a very good side. One of the lads said nine of the players who started in the semi-final played again on Tuesday night, so they are obviously a quality side. They had two good centre-backs, so it was a big learning curve for me."

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni played Long as the lone striker after being impressed by his performance as a replacement for the injured Kevin Doyle in Saturday's 2-1 Euro 2012 qualifying victory over Macedonia, and was again impressed by his performance.

Long admits he has benefited greatly from being a regular in the Reading starting eleven this season, and his 18 goals so far this term are testament to a player becoming a seasoned hit-man in front of goal .

The former Cork City player is constantly honing his skills, and his great performance against Uruguay was another opportunity to see just how far he has come this season.

Long added: "I am learning every day and 90 minutes every week is helping me progress. Tuesday's game is only going to add to that.

"They were good defenders. They knew what they were doing and could buy a foul as well, so it was a bit tough up there.

"But I gave as good as I got and I would like to think I caused them a bit of trouble."