O’Neill says move will help Long

Martin O’Neill has welcomed Shane Long’s move to Hull City as good news for the Republic of Ireland.

O’Neill, who will today be attending Reading’s game against Bolton Wanderers, said: “I am sure Shane is very pleased with the move which he wouldn’t have made unless he wanted it. It presents an opportunity for him to play more often and that can only be good for Shane and, by extension, us.”

For his part, the Tipperary striker says he is eager to start repaying Hull manager Steve Bruce’s confidence after completing a protracted move to the KC Stadium.

Long was on Bruce’s radar in the summer and came close to joining the Tigers on deadline day in September only for West Brom to pull the plug when their own pursuit of Romelu Lukaku hit the rocks. But Bruce’s interest never faded and the managerial upheaval at The Hawthorns, with Pepe Mel replacing Steve Clarke, opened the door for a fresh bid this month.

“It shows he [Bruce] really wants me at the club and that it wasn’t a ‘panic buy’ last time he came in for me,” said Long.

“The pressure now is on me to produce and to follow up on his confidence in me. I want to get out there now and play football.

“I hope it’s money well spent and it’s up to me to prove myself by scoring goals.”

With West Brom having accepted Hull’s initial advances in September and declined to open talks on an option to extend Long’s deal for an extra year, the 26-year-old appeared to be on his way out of the midlands for some time.

“It was always last minute and it fell through in the end,” he said. “Steve Clarke was manager at the time and he didn’t want me to go so it didn’t happen. I went back and concentrated on my football.”

Long scored 19 goals in 81 Premier League appearances for Albion – 60 as a starter – and, along with new signing Nikica Jelavic, adds significantly to a forward line that has laboured in an otherwise successful season for the Tigers.

Long’s arrival may mean the Ireland management team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane take up semi-permanent residence at the KC Stadium.

Keane has already visited twice this season to keep tabs on David Meyler, Robbie Brady, Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn, and Long’s presence will prove an even greater draw.

“I’m lucky that I’ve had a few inside informers letting me know what it’s like up here,” noted Long.

“They all love it up here, and they’re excited by what is happening at the club.”

However tomorrow Keane will be at Middlesbrough to run the rule over veteran goalkeeper Shay Given.

Given, whose loan spell at Boro from parent club Aston Villa is due to expire at the end of next month, retired from international football after the Euro 2012 finals.

However, O’Neill indicated he is open to discussions with the 37-year-old, who has hinted he might like to return.

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