Football/Soccer

Republic turn to Kevin Long after Ciaran Clark is ruled out of Austria qualifier

STANDFIRST

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill has named a 37-man squad ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier with Austria on June 11

Burnley defender Kevin Long has been handed a first senior Republic of Ireland call-up after Ciaran Clark was ruled out of the World Cup qualifier against Austria.

Long was included in Martin O'Neill's 37-man squad for the friendlies against Mexico and Uruguay and the Group D clash with the Austrians when it was named yesterday.

Assistant manager Roy Keane has watched him in action for Sean Dyche's team in recent weeks.

O'Neill told a press conference in Dublin: "Roy saw him play last week and said he wouldn't discount him. He's a player who has had a host of injuries – I will keep an eye on that – but Roy said not to discount him.

"He didn't do too badly in the (Burnley) game and if he plays next weekend in the last game of the Premier League season, we will see.

"It's nice that he got games and with Ciaran Clark out it gives competition for places."

Long has started the Clarets' last two Premier League games having had to wait since an EFL Cup appearance in August for his chance.

The loss of Newcastle defender Clark to a knee problem is a blow, but the return of Brighton's Shane Duffy and Bournemouth's Marc Wilson, currently on loan at West Brom, from injury is a welcome boost for O'Neill, who will also be without skipper Seamus Coleman and midfielder David Meyler.

Ireland face Mexico at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on June 1 and Uruguay back in Dublin on June 4 before the qualifier at the Aviva Stadium on June 11.

They are currently joint-top of the group with Serbia having collected 11 points from their first five games, culminating in March's goalless home draw with Wales during which Coleman suffered an horrific double leg fracture.

Both O'Neill's men and the Serbs enjoy a four-point advantage over the Welsh and Austria, who they beat 1-0 in Vienna in November courtesy of James McClean's priceless strike.

Selected members of the squad will meet up for a three-day training camp at Fota Island in Cork before the full party assembles in Dublin on May 28 before flying out to America the following day.

O'Neill said: "The training camp that we've organised is essentially for the Championship players.

"We've a group of about 15 or 16 players who finished the season a couple of weeks ago and they're not involved in the play-offs. They've had a long season and a little bit of a break, some of them haven't played a lot in games towards the end of the season."

Squad: Colin Doyle (Bradford), Rob Elliot (Newcastle), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Darren Randolph (West Ham), Cyrus Christie, Richard Keogh, Alex Pearce (all Derby), Paul McShane (Reading), Shane Duffy (Brighton), John O'Shea (Sunderland), Andy Boyle (Preston), John Egan (Brentford), Marc Wilson (West Brom), Kevin Long, Stephen Ward (both Burnley), Matt Doherty (Wolves), Aiden McGeady (Everton), Glenn Whelan (Stoke), Jeff Hendrick, Robbie Brady (both Burnley), Harry Arter (Bournemouth), Conor Hourihane (Aston Villa), Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham), Eunan O'Kane (Leeds), Darron Gibson (Sunderland), Liam Kelly (Reading), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich), James McClean (West Brom), Callum O'Dowda (Bristol City), Daryl Horgan (Preston), Jonathan Hayes (Aberdeen), Kevin Doyle (Colorado Rapids), David McGoldrick (Ipswich), Daryl Murphy (Newcastle), Shane Long (Southampton), Jonathan Walters (Stoke), Adam Rooney (Aberdeen).

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