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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 31 October, 2014

Long hopes first impression will keep him in O’Neill’s plans

Shane Long came off the bench to score as Ireland beat Latvia 3-0 in Dublin.

Long was sent on as a sub with Andy Reid and Jon Walters for the final 17 minutes.
Long was sent on as a sub with Andy Reid and Jon Walters for the final 17 minutes.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

SHANE LONG HOPES that his goalscoring cameo will bump him up Martin O’Neill’s pecking order.

Long was left on the bench against Latvia as O’Neill started Wes Hoolahan and Robbie Keane in his first game as Ireland boss.

But the West Brom striker came on for the final 17 minutes and scored Ireland’s third, tapping in Seamus Coleman’s pinpoint cross at the back post.

Keane opened the scoring with his 62nd international goal in the first half, drawing him level with Ronaldo and Didier Drogba in the all-time list and Aiden McGeady got the second to get Ireland’s management double act off to a flying start.

“Robbie’s got the record that he has, 62 goals, and it’s obviously going to be tough to get in there,” Long said afterwards.

“I just have to bide my time like I have, come off the bench, try and make an impact and show what I can do.

It’s a whole new setup there for the gaffer. He only knows two or three of us from playing underneath him so first impressions are very important. Hopefully I gave a good impression of myself there tonight.

The goal was Long’s second in as many games after he scored a header in West Brom’s 2-2 draw at Chelsea last Saturday.

And with Ireland facing a four-month break between Tuesday’s trip to Poland and their friendly against Serbia next March, club form could be crucial.

“There’s different options for the gaffer, you’ll have to ask him what [system] he wants to play.

“You’ve Jonny Walters, myself, Kevin, Stokesy, Robbie — it’s not easy for him to pick from all the strikers. I’ll have to just try to impress in training, keep scoring at club level and force the issue.”

Manager report: How did Martin O’Neill get on in his first game in charge?

Player Ratings: How we reckon the Boys in Green played tonight

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