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Long Ready and Raring To Go

Clarets' defender is eager to make mark for club and country

30 August 2017

Kevin Long is hungry to play his part for club and country after taking his game to a new level in recent months.

Long is very much a key part of the Clarets’ squad and earlier this month signed a new three-year deal at Turf Moor.

That followed a run of games at the end of last season and a first call-up by the Republic of Ireland for the long-serving central defender.

Long has been back on the bench for the Clarets’ opening three Premier League games this term with Ben Mee and James Tarkowski currently filling the centre-back berths.

But the 27-year-old impressed in Burnley’s Carabao Cup win at Blackburn Rovers and is determined to keep pushing for a more permanent place on the back of the Clarets’ impressive start to the campaign.

Long said: “I love it at Burnley. It's all about getting game-time now. That's the main focus for me - to get games and play lots of games.

“We've started quite well; a good result against Chelsea away and Spurs away.

Kevin Long is one of four Burnley players in the Ireland squad

“I haven't played in the league yet but I played in the cup last week so I'm fit and ready to go. It's just about waiting for that chance again.

“It's always tough not playing, everyone wants to play. I'm itching to play as usual, I always am.

“I want to be playing games. I'm not happy sitting and not being involved, I want to be playing.

“I played in the cup last week and I thought I did well. Every time I get a chance I'll just keep trying to impress the manager and it's up to him to change things."

Long’s return to the Premier League stage in May earned him international recognition at senior level for the first time.

The Cork-born defender seized the opportunity with starts against Uruguay and then Austria in a World Cup qualifier.

He is now in contention to keep his place for Ireland’s trip to Georgia on Thursday night as Martin O’Neill’s side – joint top of Group D – looks to sustain their challenge for a place in the 2018 World Cup finals.

And Long insists he’s ready and rearing to go as he hopes to get the nod to follow up his competitive debut in the 1-1 draw against Austria in June.

He told a press conference at Ireland’s training base: “I think at Burnley we've got quite a competitive squad and our training is always intense.

“The manager likes us to train how we play. Once you train all the time at a good level and at good intensity, when matchday comes around I think you are ready. You just take it all in your stride. That's what I did, to be fair.

"Again, I'm involved, I'm ready to play. All I can do is train hard and try to impress the manager and hope he picks me.

“There is a good number of players here and everyone wants to play. There is a lot of competition for places. Obviously, it's going to be up to the manager to make that decision.

“I played in the cup last week so if it comes down to match-fitness I feel I am ready. I don't think that will go against me. I'm ready. It's just up to the manager, who he wants to pick and what he thinks is the best team.

“To get the nod against Austria was a great boost for me but it's a new round of fixtures and there are big games coming up, so I can just try and impress the manager and hopefully I can play again.”

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