Kevin Long’s Republic of Ireland call-up takes the Burnley defender by surprise
By Damian Dolan
Burnley defender Kevin Long has spoken of his surprise at being named in Martin O’Neill’s squad for the Republic of Ireland’s June international friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay, and the World Cup qualifier with Austria.
Ireland face Mexico in New Jersey on 1 June, before hosting Uruguay at the Aviva Stadium on 4 June. They then welcome Austria to Dublin on 11 June.
O’Neill has selected a 37-man squad for the games with Long, 26, handed his first full international call up just two weeks after making his first Premier league start of the season, against West Brom. His previous league start for the Clarets came in December 2013.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I’m shocked but really happy,” said Long. “It was a nice surprise. I was just trying to concentrate on club football, so when I found out I was absolutely delighted.
“It’s been a tough year but it’s been a nice reward, getting a few games in towards the end of the season and I’ve really been enjoying it.”
O’Neill, said: “I saw Kevin Long play last week. He really impressed me, don’t discount him. It’ll be good to have a look at him.”
Long joined the Clarets from League of Ireland side Cork City during the 2010 January transfer window, and is full debut for the club came against Watford in December 2012. His Premier League debut against Newcastle in January 2015 was one to forget, as he sustained a cruciate knee injury which ruled him out of action for nine months.
A former U21 international, Long earned his first U21 cap in a European Championship qualifier in June 2012.
Everton midfielder James McCarthy – out since March with a groin injury – is not included in the squad, nor is Cork City’s Sean Maguire, although O’Neill spoke positively about his possible future involvement.
“If he continues to progress, there’s no reason why he can’t make it, but there are people ahead of him in terms of experience as much as anything,” he said.
Reading playmaker Liam Kelly, who came off the bench to help the Royals reach the Championship play-off final at Wembley with a 1-0 win over Fulham at the Madejski Stadium, also gets a call up. He joins Reading teammate Paul McShane in the squad.
Ireland are unbeaten in World Cup qualifying Group D after five matches and lie second, level on points with leaders Serbia.
Republic of Ireland squad
Goalkeepers: Colin Doyle, Rob Elliot, Keiren Westwood, Darren Randolph
Defenders: Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce, Paul McShane, Shane Duffy, John O’Shea , Andy Boyle, John Egan, Marc Wilson, Kevin Long, Stephen Ward, Matt Doherty.
Midfielders: Aiden McGeady, Glenn Whelan, Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady, Harry Arter, Conor Hourihane, Stephen Gleeson, Eunan O’Kane, Darron Gibson, Liam Kelly, Wes Hoolahan, James McClean, Callum O’Dowda, Daryl Horgan, Jonathan Hayes.
Forwards: Kevin Doyle, David McGoldrick, Daryl Murphy, Shane Long, Jonathan Walters, Adam Rooney.
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