SHANE LONG SAYS he is honoured to have been made captain of Ireland for tomorrow’s game with Georgia, and admits he will need to be more vocal than usual after being handed this extra level of responsibility.
“Normally I’m quiet on the pitch, but tomorrow will be different,” he said, explaining that it was the first time since U16 level that he had captained an Ireland team.
Long explained that he was hoping to emulate great Irish leaders of the past such as Roy Keane and Paul McGrath and said that being awarded the captaincy is “what I dream of”.
It will be the striker’s final game of the season, as he’s suspended for the Faroes encounter, while he’s missing the Spanish match on account of it clashing with his wedding, despite Trapattoni jokingly suggesting that playing against Spain in New York would be “much better”.
“I didn’t think the week could get any better,” he added, in reference to his goal against England. “And it’s the best season we’ve had ever in the Premier League.
“I’m just making sure that I’m keeping up my game.”
While Long hasn’t always started for West Brom this season, he professed himself to be relatively satisfied with how the last few months have panned out.
“The manager said he was happy with how I’d done. [Lukaku and I] share the load up front.
“He’s a fine player, and I just had to bide my time and when I got my chance, I took it.”
He continued: “A little flow of games could help me over next season.”
Meanwhile, the captaincy decision comes just a few months after Trapattoni somewhat controversially described Long’s behaviour as “idiotic,” however the pair laughed off the incident this afternoon, with the player suggesting Trap was simply keen to ensure the striker did not aggravate an injury: “I think he was looking out for me in the long run,” he said.
In addition, the subject of Wes Hoolahan and how he can fit into this Irish side was inevitably brought up.
The veteran coach indicated he was wrong to ignore the Norwich player in the past, though reiterated his claim that a more “physical” presence was required in midfield against England.
The Italian said he was unsure how seamlessly Hoolahan could slot into central midfield with McCarthy, and explained that he was using the Georgia game to “evaluate this situation”.
Moreover, when asked if a good performance could lead to Hoolahan starting against the Faroes, given that McCarthy is suspended for the game, Trapattoni answered: “Probably,” while hinting that he could also be part of a five-man midfield against Spain.
On Hoolahan, Long added that “it’s fairly impossible to get near him in training” and said he was one of the most naturally gifted players in the side, alongside “Stephen Quinn, Robbie Keane and Aiden McGeady”.