Ireland call-up surprises Long

Sean Maguire Scott Hogan and Cillian Sheridan

Sean Maguire Scott Hogan and Cillian Sheridan

He followed that up with another start at Bournemouth on Saturday and Ireland boss Martin O'Neill said assistant Roy Keane had watched Long play for Burnley and had been impressed with what he had seen.

He has handed a first senior call-up for Burnley defender Kevin Long, who has recently broken into the Premier League side's starting XI.

The Republic face Mexico and Uruguay in friendlies, then play Austria on 11 June in a Dublin World Cup qualifier.

"I wasn't expecting it".

"If he thinks at the end of the week "No, these games are too early", I don't have a problem".

"I thought there'd be a real, real chance of Ryan being named in it, considering there's a couple of friendlies coming up and as I said considering there is no limit as Martin has shown with his really big squads".

His form for the Clarets has seen him force his way into the Ireland squad and while Long admits that he's focused on cementing a place in the Burnley team for the moment, he's delighted with global recognition. It was a nice surprise.

The centre-back made his Premier League debut against Newcastle on New Years Day 2015 but suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury which kept him sidelined for the best part of a year. I was just trying to concentrate on club football, so when I found out I was absolutely delighted.

Everton midfielder James McCarthy - out since March with a groin injury - is not included in the squad, nor is Cork City's Sean Maguire, although O'Neill spoke positively about his possible future involvement.

The circumstances of the call up are a little reminiscent of McCarthy's global debut back in 1984 when he too had to skip his brother's wedding in order to join the squad.

Ireland are unbeaten in World Cup qualifying Group D after five matches and lie second, level on points with leaders Serbia.

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