Former Ireland striker Kevin Doyle says that Shane Long "definitely" should feature in the Ireland squad for the crucial Euro 2020 clash with Slovakia in March.
Speaking on The Buildup Pod with Ladbrokes, Doyle said that he couldn't believe that Shane Long was omitted from recent squads in Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
Long was first dropped from Mick McCarthy's 23-man squad ahead of a crucial home game against Switzerland in September and Doyle said he couldn't believe there wasn't any furore over the decision.
"I couldn’t believe there wasn’t more of an issue made of him not being in that squad – a proven Premier League player over the years. It was just brushed over in the end. I was trying to bring it up but no one wanted to talk about it.
"His pace alone is way ahead of what we have. He’s experienced – if he’d been in any of the last few squads, he’d have more goals than the rest of the team combined. And he’s a Premier League striker who’s playing."
The Southampton striker has been in excellent form in recent weeks, scoring twice in his last four starts, and Doyle believes that he still has a lot to offer the Irish team.
However, Long's impact on the Irish team goes well beyond his ability to score goals, according to his former teammate.
"He mightn’t score himself but he creates opportunities for players and he makes defenders nervous because they know they can’t push up on him.
"Any of the Southampton strikers that have played with him I’m sure appreciate what he does for them. He takes a lot of pressure off other players and lets other lads get the reward. Danny Ings is having a fantastic season and I can honestly assure you that a lot of that is to do with Shane. Most of his goals have come while he’s playing with Shane."
Southampton have reportedly offered Long a new contract as a result of his form and Doyle thinks that Long should start against Slovakia in March.
The former Wolves and Reading forward thinks that Shane Long is a better option than Sheffield United frontman David McGoldrick - one of McCarthy's most trusted lieutenants.
We definitely need him. Mick probably won’t start him, but he should definitely be in the squad.
I would play him ahead of David McGoldrick but it depends on Mick’s style of play.
David is very good and has been very good. The way he’s holding the ball up and bringing the team up the pitch and bringing other people into play.
It’s a different strength to what Shane has. David McGoldrick’s touch might be better. His hold up would be better. But then he doesn’t have the same pace Shane has.