SCOUTING REPORT | Long continues to shine at Southampton
Tipperary native Long, capped 82-times for Ireland, scored his second goal of the season for Southampton in Wednesday night’s 3-2 FA Cup replay defeat away to Tottenham.
Long has yet to play for McCarthy in this UEFA EURO 2020 campaign but his return to first team football has pushed him right into contention for the trip to Bratislava at the end of March.
With Callum Robinson, Scott Hogan and Ronan Curtis also on the mark for their clubs in recent games, McCarthy is delighted with the current form of those vying for a seat on the plane to Slovakia.
“I am sure people are fed up of me talking about the need for Shane to play first team football but that is exactly what I have been saying to Shane since I got the job,” McCarthy told FAI.ie
“He’s been very unlucky with the timing of some of his injuries in the past year. Shane had to withdraw from my first squad with an injury and then missed out again in the summer after reporting in to camp in Dublin.
“I’ve kept in touch with him and kept him in the picture regarding his need for first team football. He’s back in regular action now with Southampton and his goal at Spurs on Wednesday night was a real poacher’s goal, he was in the right place at the right time.
“Shane is playing again and scoring again and that means he is pushing all the right buttons ahead of Slovakia.”
Delighted to see strikers Robinson and Hogan score for West Brom and Birmingham City on Saturday, both on their debut after loan moves from Sheffield United and Aston Villa respectively, McCarthy again took note of Curtis’ current form at Portsmouth.
Pompey’s leading scorer this season with 13 goals, Curtis celebrated his new extended contract with assists for both goals in Saturday’s 2-0 win at home to League One promotion rivals Sunderland.
“Ronan is flying with Portsmouth and, like Shane and Michael Obafemi at Southampton, we have been keeping a close eye on him in recent weeks. He had a bit of a dip in form earlier this season but he has really bounced back in style.
“He can score goals, as he has proven with 13 now for this campaign. Ronan is having a great season and he is right back in the frame for the game in Bratislava.”
Keeping his attention towards the South coast of England, Republic boss McCarthy has also been in regular contact with Brighton defender Shane Duffy around his recent surgery to remove a blood clot in his leg.
Derry-born Duffy faces a couple of weeks on the sidelines as he recovers from the operation but McCarthy is not concerned about his availability for the game in Slovakia which is still seven weeks away.
McCarthy added: “I have spoken to Shane and he tells me he will be fine – trust me, if Shane says he will be okay then he will be okay as he has proven to me already in this campaign.
“It was a minor operation and Shane has told me it was better to get it done now and out of the way before we start to work on our preparation for the Slovakia game. That’s good enough for me.”