Long included in provisonal Irish squad for upcoming friendlies

The Southampton striker has been included in squad for friendlies.

Long included in provisonal Irish squad for upcoming friendlies
Long will be a key player for Ireland at the Euros. | Photo: Reuters

Southampton's number seven, Shane Long has once again been called up to the Republic Of Ireland squad for his nation’s friendlies later this month against Switzerland and Slovakia.

The call comes after a number of fine performances for the Saints, which has seen him gain a regular space in Ronald Koeman's starting eleven.

40-man squad named

Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill has named a 40-man squad, which will then get cut down to 23 players before they meet up on the 20th March.

To name 17 players who won't even be part of the squad for the friendlies is a strange decision, given that they won't be with the team whatsoever during training.

It seems like an empty gesture more than anything else, especially if none feature in those games.

Long's superb strike against Germany helped the Republic of Ireland secure qualification to the finals. | Photo: The Telegraph
Long's superb strike against Germany helped the Republic of Ireland secure qualification to the finals. | Photo: The Telegraph

Schedule

The Irish will first come up against Switzerland at the Aviva Stadium on the 25th March before facing Slovakia at the same venue four days later. These two will provide good tests for Long and his team mates as both have qualified for this summer’s European Championships in France.

These two matches will be the final two friendlies before the end of the regular season.

Euro's on horizon

Over the past couple of years this Irish side have come on leaps and bounds and, although they have been drawn alongside Sweden, Italy and Belgium, they know that they still have great potential to go through the group. However, it will be a huge challenge to progress past the initial stage.

Long, who has been in superb form of the Saints of late, will have really played himself into the management's thoughts and is a serious contender to lead the line for them in this summer’s event.