Having endured a very difficult period in front of goal over the past couple of years, it looks as though Shane Long may be getting back to the player we all know and love. The Southampton man netted his fourth goal in five games against Bournemouth yesterday, a stretch which included scoring the fastest goal in Premier League history.
His return to form could have hardly come at a better time, with Ireland set to play in two key Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar in a few weeks. Long missed the opening two qualifiers due to injury, but is sure to play a big part in the games at the start of June.
One man who is certainly delighted to see him back playing well is Ireland boss Mick McCarthy. Speaking to the FAI's official website, McCarthy said seeing Long playing consistently at Southampton once again is hugely encouraging.
The Ireland fans used to sing that Shane Long was on fire, well he is now so they can get the song ready again.
I am delighted to see him scoring but just as happy that Shane is back in the Southampton team and playing on a regular basis. It’s his fitness as much as his goalscoring that pleases me because I know he was frustrated when that injury forced him to return home after just a couple of days with us in March...
Shane is a really effective centre-forward. These goals will just give him a real lift and boost his confidence coming back into our squad and that can only be good news with the training camp in Portugal and two big games on the horizon.
McCarthy also congratulated Ireland's Sheffield United contingent, who sealed promotion to the Premier League this weekend. Scott Hogan especially has caught his attention in recent weeks, with his return to scoring form giving the Irish boss 'some food for thought', who admitted he is now a 'contender' for the upcoming matches.
Another player who will be considered over the coming weeks is Dundalk striker Pat Hoban. Hoban broke the club's scoring record in the 2-1 win over Shamrock Rovers on Friday night,
I know Patrick set a new record for Dundalk on Friday and we’ll be keeping an eye on him in the coming weeks.