Belfast Telegraph

Hodgson backs Long call-up

West Brom manager Roy Hodgson diffused a potential club versus country row by insisting crocked striker Shane Long's inclusion in the Republic of Ireland Euro 2012 play-off squad is "the correct decision".

Albion's medical staff believe Long will be sidelined for six weeks with the knee injury suffered during a challenge by Aston Villa defender Alan Hutton last weekend. But Republic boss Giovanni Trapattoni has named Long in the squad to face Estonia, even though the first leg is only two weeks away.

Hodgson said: "The prognosis from the doctors and medical experts is that Shane will be out for six weeks. But I quite understand why an important player like Shane is included in the squad because there is nothing to stop Giovanni Trapattoni being optimistic."

He added: "There have been lots of cases in the past where people have been diagnosed with an injury which will take longer than it actually takes.

"So no-one would be happier than ourselves if Shane Long recovers in two weeks and can play for Ireland in these important qualifiers.

"For me, his selection is fine. I just hope they won't be too disappointed if the doctors prognosis turns out to be the correct one. It might turn out to be optimistic."

Hodgson was initially angry with the challenge by Hutton which was unpunished by referee Phil Dowd, and his opinion has not changed.

Hodgson said: "I've said what I have to say about Hutton's tackle. I've got nothing more to add. I haven't changed my opinion but I do not wish to continue the debate.

"It was unfortunate for us. It is part of football. I accept that but on the other hand, when I get asked a straight question about a challenge, I feel sometimes it is my duty to say what I feel."

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