Shane Long is determined to force his way into Giovanni Trapattoni’s World Cup plans after working his way back into Republic of Ireland contention.
The 25-year-old West Brom striker was handed a rare start in Wednesday night’s 1-0 friendly defeat by Greece at the Aviva Stadium after finding himself back in favour with the Italian following a misunderstanding over an injury earlier this season.
Ironically, a tight hamstring meant he only played the first 45 minutes of the game, but as he headed back to his club hoping to be fit enough to line up against Chelsea at the weekend, Long was already thinking of March’s qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.
Asked if he had given Trapattoni something to think about, he said: “I hope so.
“There’s a good three or four months now until the next qualifying game, so I have a lot of impression to make in my club games, and hopefully I can do that and impress him even more and cause him a problem for the next game.”
Long won his 31st senior cap on Wednesday night, but only a handful of his starts have come in competitive matches.
The ubiquitous presence of Robbie Keane – Ireland’s record goalscorer was not asked to travel from Los Angeles for Wednesday night’s fixture – has left the Baggies frontman competing with Kevin Doyle, Jon Walters and Simon Cox for the remaining place in the starting line-up over the years, and he also points to a lack of Barclays Premier League experience in the past in mitigation.
He said: “It’s been tough. For three out of those five years, I wasn’t really starting in the Premier League, and you had the likes of Kevin and Robbie and Jon Walters and people like that playing every week, so I could accept it them.
“But I am slowly pushing my way in there and putting the pressure on the lads to take their starting position.
“It’s all about doing it at club level and doing it again on Saturday against Chelsea.”