Kevin Long’s career has come on leaps and bounds over the past twelve or so months.
Despite leaving Cork City to join Burnley in 2010, the defender had to patiently bide his time to establish himself as a fully-fledged member of the Clarets’ first team squad as a number of injuries, managerial changes and loan spells away from Turf Moor disrupted his progress.
All of that changed at the tail end of last season, and since then Long has featured far more for Sean Dyche’s side, though he has had to be patient once again this year as James Tarkowski and Ben Mee established a fantastic centre-half partnership for the high-flying side.
Long got his chance in Saturday’s Premier League clash against Leicester, and he repaid Dyche by scoring his first ever Premier League goal. With Burnley already 1-0 up after a blistering start, the 27-year-old rose to meet Johann Berg Gudmundsson to double the side’s advantage with less than ten minutes on the clock.
Long’s only other goal for the Clarets came in an FA Cup clash with Southampton in January 2014, and it’s his first competitive goal of any kind since January 2016 (while on loan at Barnsley in League One).
After last week’s man of the match display against Watford (in which he also earned an assist), Long is doing his chances of nailing down a first team spot. With Ireland boss Martin O’Neill also filirting with the idea of playing with three centre backs from now on also, it might go some way to enhancing the Corkman’s credentials as a potential defensive partner for Shane Duffy and Ciaran Clark.