KEVIN Long made his mark in the Republic Of Ireland jersey last month by scoring in the friendly against Bulgaria.
The Corkman will be hoping to provide the perfect solution for the upcoming crunch Euro 2020 qualifying games, as Richard Keogh is definitely out and Shane Duffy still only having an outside chance of recovering from a calf strain.
Patience is something which is describes the career of Long fairly well and certainly so this term.
At Burnley, Long is finding regular game time hard to come by, with James Tarkowski and Ben Mee the current first choice centre back pairing at Turf Moor. Long’s last Premier League appearance was away to Arsenal at the Emerites Stadium last December. He has only played twice this term, once for Burnley against Sunderland in the League Cup and for Ireland in the friendly against Bulgaria.
Long is someone that is determined to take advantage of any opportunity and insists he would seize the moment if called upon by Mick McCarthy for Saturday’s game in Georgia.
“It can be frustrating. If other lads for Burnley or Ireland are playing well, there’s not much I can do.
“I spoke to Mick briefly about it in the past. He wants me playing games, first and foremost, but is aware of the position I’m in at Burnley.
“He’s stuck by me and hopefully I can repay him for that.
“If I get a chance on Saturday, I’ll be ready to take it with both hands. This match, and the trip to Switzerland on Tuesday, are huge games. They’re the type of you want to be involved in.
“I haven’t played much this season but feel fine and fit. Burnley arranged an U23 last week so it was nice to get 90 minutes.
“He (Sean Dyche) knows what he’s got with me, that I’m an honest player and I would never slack off in training.”
“I always try my hardest in every training session and every game. I know they value me at Burnley, I’m valued there.
“I might not play that much but I’m valued. Obviously I want to play more but it’s not that easy. For one reason or another it’s not happened but I’m happy, I would just like to get more games. It’s as simple as that.”
Looking ahead to the crunch qualifying games against Georgia and Switzerland, Long feels that they could potentially provide an opportunity for him to cement a regular spot in the Irish defence.
“Definitely, no matter what was happening this week I was always going to come in and train my best and see what happens.
“If I’m playing, there are two massive games and if we do well I want to try and nail down that spot for myself, that’s what I am aiming to do.”