Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Long keen to secure Irish play-off start

Irish striker Shane Long has set his sights on forcing his way in Ireland's starting line-up for the crucial Euro 2012 play-off games against Estonia.

Long was a surprise ommission for the decisive group match with Estonia in Dublin last week, which saw Ireland secure a runners-up spot.

But the suspension of Kevin Doyle for the first leg of the play-off, and doubts over the fitness of Robbie Keane, have given Long an extra incentive ahead of next month's fixtures.

Long was again man-of-the-match for West Brom during Sunday's 2-0 win over Wolves at the Hawthorns.

He said: "It was disappointing not to play against Armenia but it was the right result.

"We now have Estonia in the play-offs and hopefully we can get to the Euros and make it a good summer next year.

"There are a lot of games for West Brom before that so hopefully I can stake my claim in those games.

"People say I've got a great chance to start with Kevin Doyle suspended and Robbie Keane injured.

"Kevin is missing and I would like to think I am a natural replacement for him.

"But I thought I may start the last game as well, and it wasn't to be, so we will have to see what happens.

"Hopefully I can keep doing what I am doing here at West Brom, keep putting in performances, and the Irish manager will take note.

"The manager didn't say why I didn't play against Armenia. He just told me I was on the bench and to make sure to be ready if I was needed."