West Brom striker Shane Long keen to keep Republic of Ireland starting spot

Shane Long: Hoping to keep his starting place for next year's World Cup qualifiers

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Republic of Ireland forward Shane Long is determined to force his way into Giovanni Trapattoni's World Cup plans.

The 25-year-old West Brom man started Wednesday's 1-0 friendly defeat at home to Greece and is hoping he can now impress the manager to keep his place for the World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria in March.

Long said: "There's a good three or four months now until the next qualifying game, so I have a lot of impression to make in my club games, and hopefully I can do that and impress him even more and cause him a problem for the next game."

The former Reading man has 31 caps for Ireland but has found himself on the bench behind Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle for the vast majority of competitive fixtures.

"I am slowly pushing my way in there and putting the pressure on the lads to take their starting position."

Shane Long

Long is anxious for that situation to change now he is a Premier League regular with the Baggies.

"It's been tough," he added. "For three out of those five years, I wasn't really starting in the Premier League, and you had the likes of Kevin and Robbie and Jon Walters and people like that playing every week, so I could accept it then.

"But I am slowly pushing my way in there and putting the pressure on the lads to take their starting position.

"It's all about doing it at club level and doing it again on Saturday against Chelsea."

Disappointing

The defeat to Greece brought an end to a disappointing year for Ireland in which they lost five of their 12 matches, including all three at Euro 2012.

But with Wes Hoolahan now back in contention as well as a number of young players such as James McCarthy, James McClean and Robbie Brady being introduced, Long is optimistic.

"When results don't go your way, the crowd will get frustrated, but it's worked for us for two or three years now and when we are winning, it's all happy days," he said.

Asked about Hoolahan, he added: "He's a very lively player, especially in that role behind the striker.

"He finds positions well - I have obviously witnessed that first hand in the Premier League at Norwich. He's doing it week in, week out, so I am delighted for him to get his call-up.

"Wes came in and did really well, Robbie on the wing has given him something to think about as well. Hopefully, there are bright times ahead."