Burnley defender Long receives Irish call-up

IRISH CALL: Kevin Long (right) spent time on loan at Rochdale last season
IRISH CALL: Kevin Long (right) spent time on loan at Rochdale last season

CLARETS’ defender Kevin Long has won his first call-up to the Republic of Ireland under-21s.

Long has been drafted into Ireland’s squad for their European Championship qualifying tie against Italy in Sligo next Monday afternoon.

The 21-year-old was invited to train with Noel King’s squad last week ahead of a friendly against Denmark on Monday.

And the former Cork City youngster has now been formally added to the squad to face Italy in a Group Seven qualifier at the Showgrounds.

The call-up is a reward for Long’s impressive progress during three loan spells away from Turf Moor.

The central defender is yet to make a senior appearance for the Clarets since signing on a three-and-a-half-year deal in January, 2010.

But following two successful loan spells with Accrington Stanley he made the step up to League One with a temporary move to Rochdale in January and made 16 appearances up to the end of last season for John Coleman’s side.

Long is set to return to Turf Moor for pre-season but before that will be looking to help Ireland upset group leaders Italy and keep alive their hopes of qualification for the 2013 finals in Israel.

The Irish are currently third in their group behind Italy and Turkey with games in hand on both.

Republic of Ireland U21 squad: Ian McLoughlin (MK Dons), Aaron McCarey (Wolves), Mark Connolly (Unattached), Shane Duffy (Everton), Greg Cunningham (Manchester City), Niall Canavan (Scunthorpe United), John Egan (Sunderland), Kevin Long (Burnley), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), Eunan O’Kane (Torquay United), Richie Towell (Unattached), Aidan White (Leeds United), Conor Clifford (Chelsea), Conor Hourihane (Plymouth Argyle), Sean Murray (Watford), Samir Carruthers (Aston Villa), Ronan Murray (Ipswich Town), James Collins (Shrewsbury Town), Rhys Murphy (Unattached), Robbie Brady (Manchester United).