Shane Long hints at possible Reading converts
Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long hinted earlier this week that three of his Reading clubmates have links with Ireland, and may be interested in playing for the Irish national team.
Reading, who are currently fifth place in the Championship and chasing promotion, have a number of Irish internationals in their squad, with Long, Noel Hunt, and Ian Harte all having played for the senior side. As well as that, the club also has a number of Irish youths on their books: midfielder Jay Tabb (7 u21 caps), defender Julian Kelly (who has played at under-19 level), defender Carl McHugh (former u17 captain and now u19 regular), forward James Murphy (under 17) and forward Dave Mooney (u23 international).
In an interview with the Evening Herald on Thursday, striker Shane Long (who is the Championship’s second highest scorer with 20 goals) stated that two more of the Reading squad have Irish connections, and was informed of goalkeeper Alex McCarthy’s Irish lineage. “I didn’t know about Alex McCarthy but I knew about Sean alright”, Long told the Evening Herald. “Sean Morrison is a bit of an Irish name. I knew he wanted to [play for Ireland]. I think there’s another lad, Alex Pearce, a centre-back going for it. There’s a few coming out of the woodwork.
“I’m not too sure about Alex. He’s a top goalkeeper, he’s played for England U21s there during the week and kept a clean sheet in a 4-0 win over Denmark. He’s top quality so if he does decide to play for Ireland it would be a boost.”
Long was asked about his relationship with Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni, and was full of praise for the veteran Italian. “I think every player learns so much from him,” he declared. “I know me personally, I do anyway. He tells you things when, after he tells you, are so simple but something you don’t think about and it adds to your game a lot.
“It’s just his experience, being in the game for so long. He’s added to every player’s game and the longer he’s over Irish football the better for it. Him and Marco, the two of them kind of look after me a bit and train me up a bit. When I come into the Irish squad, I learn something new every time. I suppose how can’t you learn from a World Cup winner and a manager of his accolades? Yeah, they’ve definitely added to my game a lot and are part of the reason why I’m scoring.”
Long, who is linked with a number of Premier League clubs, and is likely to play in the top flight next year, with or without Reading, is also positive about the rest of Ireland’s Euro 2012 campaign.
“We’re joint top of the table and in a great position of making the Euros,” Long admitted. “It’s working for us. We’re getting results on the board I think sometimes in the past we wouldn’t do. We maybe drew games we should have won. It worked for Italy as well in all their years of football. I think it’s the right way to go. If you’re 1-0 up, it’s just as good as a 4-0 win, you still get the three points on the board. It’s the right way to go I think.
“Russia and Slovakia have a lot of tough games away to go to. Slovakia have to come here and the one big game which stands out for us is the game in Russia. I think we can pull out a result there and if we do that, it puts us in a great position. First we have to look to beat Macedonia again in the summer. It’s going to be hard out there in the heat but I’m sure we’ll be well up for it and three points there could go a long way.”