Defender has mixed feelings after Boro stalemate
Kevin Long hopes he has taken another step towards cementing a long-term Turf Moor future after earning his second senior start for the Clarets.
Long got the nod to partner Jason Shackell in the centre of Burnley’s defence as they shut out shot-shy Middlesbrough in Tuesday night’s stalemate.
And the Irishman, who made his full debut came against Watford in December, wants to keep making his mark with the Clarets after clocking up more than 50 League starts during loan spells at Portsmouth, Rochdale and Accrington Stanley.
“Since the manager has come in he has kept me in his thoughts and told me I am in his plans, which is all I could ask for,” said Long.
“I have just had to keep working hard on the training ground and hope that he picks me.
“All I can do is if I get my chance try and play well and hope he keeps me in the team.
“When I came here Burnley was the club I wanted to play for. When I went out on loan I needed that needed experience.
“Since I’ve come back I think I’ve been a better player. I just want to kick on and try and earn my place in this team.”
Long has been a regular in the Clarets’ senior squad since getting his first start under Sean Dyche and after recovering from an ankle knock and playing 90 minutes in the reserves last week took his chance to impress against Boro.
“I just felt it was appropriate and Kevin delivered a good performance,” said Dyche.
“It’s important that we expose the younger players to the chance of playing and I just felt the time was right.”
In truth Long was never over-extended against a Boro side which didn’t register its first effort on target until the final minute of a 0-0 draw as Tony Mowbray’s side battened down the hatches to end a six-game losing run away from home.
But the 22-year-old, who reaches the end of his current contract in the summer, turned in a composed performance which left him with understandable mixed emotions.
“I was delighted with the call-up and the clean sheet, but disappointed we didn’t get the win,” added Long, who joined Burnley from Cork City in January, 2010.
“I think we did enough. We maybe didn’t create enough chances but I think one goal would have won it.
“If we had got one early on they would have had to come out but that didn’t happen and they just sat behind the ball and played for the draw.
“The effort was there through the whole game but it just didn’t happen. We couldn’t break them down and we have to move on to Saturday and hopefully get something at Brighton.”