Southampton striker Shane Long has tested positive for Covid-19 whilst on international duty with the Republic of Ireland.
The Ireland Football Association confirmed the news yesterday and stated that Long will self-isolate away from the rest of Ireland’s players and he missed yesterday evening’s dramatic 2-1 loss to Portugal in World Cup Qualifying.
It remains to be seen if Long will be able to play a part in further qualifiers for his country against Azerbaijan and Serbia on Saturday and Tuesday respectively.
The 34-year-old stayed with Saints during the summer transfer window but has strong competition ahead of him at St Mary’s, meaning he will be wanting to get some vital minutes under his belt in international fixtures if possible.
Southampton’s Long can still play a part for his country
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Given that they failed to qualify for Euro 2020, this qualification campaign will be an important one for Ireland and Shane Long still has a part to play once he is allowed to return to training and matches.
He and his teammates are up against it but they can get right back into the mix with two wins in their remaining games in this international break. They face Azerbaijan, bottom of their group, and Serbia who currently sit in 2nd – importantly, both games will be in front of an Irish crowd.
They did almost grab a surprise result against Portugal on Wednesday night. John Egan’s header just before half-time gave Ireland a precious lead to hold onto in the second period and things looked to be going their way given that Cristiano Ronaldo had an early penalty saved by young goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
However, new Manchester United signing Ronaldo showed his class late on with a quickfire double of two excellent headers to make sure Portugal retained their unbeaten record with four qualifying games now played.