Monday, October 3, 2011

Hodgson hails Shane Long Premiership start

West Bromwich manager Roy Hodgson believes club record signing Shane Long will prove to be the Barclays Premier League’s bargain buy of the season.

The Ireland international met up in Dublin with his Ireland team-mates yesterday ahead of this week’s crucial Euro 2012 qualifiers against Andorra and Armenia, 24 hours after scoring his third goal since his £5million summer move from Reading.

It was Long's first since opening the season with goals against Manchester United and Chelsea, and a welcome boost ahead of a critical week for his country in which he will be under additional pressure to score the goals which could take Ireland to the finals in Ukraine and Poland

Hodgson was delighted with the Tipperary born players' overall contribution and was keen to remind supporters that the 23-year-old has been signed as a player for the future, who just happens to have been thrust into the top flight, and international football, ahead of the normal schedule.

Hodgson said: 'I don't think we paid a lot for potential. The figures quoted are wrong, I am not saying how much it was but I have seen the quotes. He might be the bargain of the year as it turns out.

'He came from Ireland where he was playing hurling, then at 17 he went straight into Reading and became a star player within two or three years.

He got into the Irish national team and then into the Premier League, so it is a meteoric rise and we are talking about a young lad of 23/24 who started very late and is still to some extent learning the game.

'I am not at all surprised it has taken time for him to settle, in fact it has taken less time than I thought with what the Premier League is.

'He had a flying start with a goal against Manchester United and today his all-round play was very good, his target play was good and he was a threat in front and behind defender, rarely gave the ball away and of course his work rate is outstanding.

Hodgson consulted Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni as part of the long process of adding Long to his squad.

He saw off interest from Premier League rivals Newcastle and Stoke, and the lure of better wages, plus the prospect of top flight football after a promotion season in the Championship with West Ham or Leicester.

The experienced Hodgson also promoted the cause of West Brom striker Simon Cox before his successful summer call-up.

Cox has only started two games for his club, both in the Carling Cup, and did score against Bournemouth. He has just two substitute appearances to his name.

Hodgson revealed the fourth striker in Trapattoni’s squad, who is keeping out Newcastle’s in-form Leon Best, came close to a third at the Stadium of Light.
He said: 'I have a relationship with Giovanni and where he was exceptionally good was in transfer deadline week.

'It took a long while to get the Long transfer through and he had actually joined up with the Ireland squad but Giovanni was very good and let him spend the day with us and complete his medical.

'It suits Ireland to have him playing in the Premier League and with Doyle, Long and Keane and Cox as well. They look strong.

'Simon was in good form and was unlucky not to get on today and under normal circumstances I would have put him on with Peter not at his best but I didn't want to destroy Peter and was hoping he would produce a bit of magic late in the game. But I was wrong on that one.'