"I'm very surprised at his omission from the squad. I don't really understand it"
Shane Long has scored 17 competitive goals for Ireland.
It's a return of one goal for every five games played. It's nothing spectacular, it's a relatively modest strike-rate. But it's sure as hell better than the record of the four forwards in the current Irish squad.
Those four, chosen by Mick McCarthy last week are Callum Robinson, Sean Maguire, Scott Hogan and David McGoldrick. Four decent players, four players who have worked their way up through the ranks. Between them, they have made 25 appearances for their country, between them have not scored a goal for their country.
That's a damning stat no matter what way you look at it. True, Shane Long has been frozen out at Southampton. True, it's been a long time since he's shown any semblance of the form he showed in green a couple of years ago.
But surely the experience and the guaranteed energy, physicality and pace he offers should earn him a spot amongst the four.
Speaking on RTÉ prior to Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier with Switzerland, Liam Brady was mystified as to Long's absence from the squad.
"He's quick, he can pressurise people, I think he can add impetus when he comes on. I'm very surprised at his omission from the squad. I don't really understand it," he said.
Richie Sadlier sees where McCarthy is coming from.
"When I saw it first, I thought it was some sort of non-footballing issue that we haven't heard of. I haven't heard of anything. It's been a long time since I've looked at an Irish lineup with Shane Long in it and said, this fella is a goal threat...It's obviously an indication of what Mick thinks of him.
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) September 5, 2019
If Long wants to make the squad, his task is clear, as Mick McCarthy noted to reporters at his press conference on Wednesday.
“Shane just wasn’t playing, in any games, so my logic is and the way I want players to play is they need to be playing.”