Belfast Telegraph

Republic star Long on steep learning curve

By Damian Spellman

Shane Long's hunger to learn his trade has only been increased by his emergence as a genuine international footballer.

The Republic of Ireland striker scored his sixth goal in 19 senior appearances for his country in Tuesday night's 3-2 friendly defeat by World Cup semi-finalists Uruguay, and was also instrumental in winning the penalty which led to his side's second.

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni employed the 24-year-old frontman as a lone striker after being impressed by his performance as a replacement for the injured Kevin Doyle in Saturday's 2-1 Euro 2012 qualifying victory over Macedonia, and was again delighted with his efforts.

Long said: “They came fourth in the World Cup, so they are a very good side.

“One of the lads said nine of the players who started in the semi-final played again last night, so they are obviously a quality side.

“They had two good centre-backs, so it was a big learning curve for me.

“I am learning every day and 90 minutes every week is helping me progress. Last night is only going to add to that.

“They were good defenders. They knew what they were doing and could buy a foul as well, so it was a bit tough up there.

“But I gave as good as I got and I would like to think I caused them a bit of trouble.”

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