Long: 'Disrespectful' to say I deserve starting spot

Long: 'Disrespectful' to say I deserve starting spot

Shane Long feels it would be 'disrespectful' to say he deserves a starting place in the Republic of Ireland team despite being left frustrated on the bench for long spells of a turbulent year for the national side.

There have been repeated calls from supporters for the in-form Tipperary man to be installed as number one in attack, especially after Euro 2012, where he was stuck to the bench for all but 40 minutes of the disastrous campaign.

The West Brom striker may have earned 31 caps with the national side since making his debut in 2007, but he has started just 10 times, with eight of those in friendly encounters.

Yet despite his good club form, the 25-year-old believes it would be unfair for him to say he should start for Ireland.

Speaking in an interview with FeckTv, he said: "It can be frustrating at times sitting on the bench. There are 23 players in the squad, so some are going to be left disappointed. It would be disrespectful for me to say I should be starting.

"I've told the manager I'm ready when he wants me. It's an honour for me to pull on the green shirt and whenever I'm called upon, I will give it my all.

"You have to look at the options the manager has. Robbie Keane has scored something like 56 goals. Then there's Kevin Doyle, Jon Walters, (Simon) Cox and Andy Keogh. The manager will pick the best team he thinks can win the game.

"We're all fighting for two spots. I room with Kevin and the two of us are fighting for one spot. There's no bitterness, we have the backing of the other player. But, yes, it's frustrating because you want to play."

Trapattoni’s stand-off approach - failing to go to as many club games as desired, and, at times, struggling to communicate with players - has been forensically scrutinised in recent months and adding further credence to the theory that he fails to speak with members of the squad as much as he should, Long admitted that the Italian doesn’t take players aside to explain why they have been left out of the team.

"Not really (he doesn’t take us aside), but it's fairly apparent in training all week from the shape what the team is going to be.

"At least it's not just before the game that I find out. I have time to deal with it and make sure I'm ready for the last 20, 30 minutes if he needs me."

Currently sitting in sixth, and missing out on a Champions League spot on goal difference, Long has been at the forefront of West Brom’s blistering start to the Premier League campaign.

He has scored five goals, but his work-rate and chance creation for other teammates has won him many admirers.

Nevertheless, three defeats on the trot have quelled the flames of expectation at the Hawthorns and with West Ham to come on Sunday afternoon, Long says they need to get back to winning ways to rekindle the momentum which helped them to wins over Chelsea and Liverpool already this season.

"We've lost three on the bounce and people are saying we're heading back to a relegation battle all of a sudden. We just have to keep faith in ourselves that we're good enough to be where we are. It's time to get back on track against West Ham at the weekend now.

"We're confident, we're not there by mistake. We're playing good football against good teams and coming out on top. We've had maybe two bad halves of football all season and they’ve been costly for us.”

Naturally, his good form at the Hawthorns has led to speculation of potential suitors. Liverpool, who’ve been over-reliant on their only recognised striker, Luis Suarez, have already been linked with a January swoop, and quizzed on whether he would be lured towards Anfield, Long said: "It's nice to hear the rumours but I'm a long way from that Liverpool side yet. I'm doing well at West Brom and scoring plenty of goals.

“I’m certainly not in it for the money. Hopefully there will be a step up somewhere along the line but I’m just focused on West Brom now.”

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