Long move lights up Trap

GIOVANNI TRAPATTONI was more than happy for Shane Long to miss yesterday’s training session with the Republic of Ireland squad at Malahide after the Italian received a phone call from West Brom boss Roy Hodgson asking for permission for the striker to go to the Hawthorns to undergo a medical.

Negotiations regarding the move were being completed last night and Long will be officially confirmed as West Brom’s record signing today.

Long is expected to reunite with his Irish colleagues on the training pitch today after completing his €7 million transfer from Reading, an upwardly mobile move which Trapattoni reckons can only help the Tipperary striker realise his full potential.

“I am happy,” said the Ireland manager. “Because now he will play with a different manager and different players in a stronger league against stronger opponents and so he can only learn. Shane has good qualities. He jumps very well. He has no fear. And he is fast — that is an important quality in the modern game. But I think he can improve more. He needs to understand better how to help colleagues and bring other players into the game.

“But Shane is young. That is the reason. He needs to think a little bit in advance about what to do. He has improved already, but he can improve more. He can shoot, left, right, he can head the ball. And he defends the ball very well. But he needs to improve in the other areas of the game.”

Trapattoni knows Roy Hodgson through mutual friends in Italy and reckons the West Brom manager’s extensive experience of working on the continent can also be beneficial for Long.

“Roy was also in Italy and knows a different interpretation of football,” he says. “He can use that experience too to help Shane. Because there is not only English football, there is international football as well.”

And, on that point, Trapattoni thinks there is a potential bonus for Ireland in Long’s move, since it means he will be linking up with fellow international striker Simon Cox at the Hawthorne.

“Yes, I said to Roy that it’s a good mix,’’ Trapattoni revealed. ‘‘One is fast and the other, Cox, plays with a bit more experience. They could be a good combination.”

However, Simon Cox himself doesn’t expect to be a first-choice partner for the new man at West Brom.

“Well, Trap should be my agent — or my league manager,” he quipped yesterday. “Him and Roy Hodgson are both very prestigious managers, they’ve been around a long time and they know players inside out. But the thing is Roy picks the West Brom team for a Saturday, week in, week out. And if he believes Shane is best partnered with me, then fine. But if Roy Hodgson thinks he’s best on his own or with a withdrawn striker, then that’s what he’ll do. I don’t think I’ll be able to influence that unless I’m knocking in goals left, right and centre in training. I don’t think Trapattoni can influence Roy Hodgson’s thinking on a Saturday but — thanks for trying!

“I think the manager’s going to bring Shane in to play alongside Peter Odemwingie, so it’ll be down to me to try produce performances in training to try find my way into that team.”

Of one thing, Cox is certain, Long — someone he knows since his days playing with him in the Reading reserves — will be “a great addition” to the West Brom team.

“You know what Shane gives you — pace and power,” said Cox. “His record last year was very good and hopefully he can come in and produce for us what he did for Reading. He was a bit-part player when Reading were in the Premier League last time but if he keeps doing what he did in the Championship last season, I don’t see why he can’t be a hit for us in the Premiership this time.

“The players that we’ve got at West Brom can only help Shane as a player. And especially the manager that we’ve got — I believe he’s helped me immensely since I’ve been there. And if he can do that with Shane, he can go from strength to strength.”

But first up, there’s the enticing prospect of the two ex-Reading reserves playing together for the first time in the green shirt against Croatia at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow night.

“Some people have to take different paths to get to the pinnacle of their career,” Simon Cox reflects. “I went away to get regular football. Shane bided his time and got regular football at Reading. And what we’ve both done has paid dividends.”

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