Ireland international wants medal to look back on
SHANE Long has set his sights on a prolonged run in this year’s FA Cup following Saturday’s 1-1 third-round draw at QPR.
The 25-year-old striker's 75th-minute deflected strike looked to be sending the Baggies through at Loftus Road but Kieron Dyer’s stoppage-time equaliser earned the hosts a replay - with the winners set for a home tie with either Sheffield Wednesday or MK Dons.
And Long, who has now netted eight goals for the Baggies this term, believes Steve Clarke's men have the strength in depth to win the world’s oldest football competition for the sixth time - 45 years on from their last success.
“It’s a great chance to win a medal and at the end of your career you want something to look back on,” said Long.
“The gaffer said before the game ‘all you have to do is win six games and you win the FA Cup’.
“We’ve got a great squad of players here and we can beat any team on our day, so this is a great chance for us this season.
“It would have been ideal to get a win on Saturday and have a week before the next game against Villa but we’re professionals and we will approach every game as an important one and hopefully get three wins in the next two weeks.
“QPR will have to travel now and they are in a bit of a dogfight at the bottom of the table so that extra game won’t do them any good.
“We might have a few injured players coming back by that stage so it might be a good 75 or 90 minutes for them at that stage.
“The quicker we get people back to fitness, the better."
And on the stalemate in West London, Long added: “It’s frustrating because we fought a hard battle.
“Loftus Road’s not an easy place to go but we went 1-0 up and the lads looked very comfortable at the back.
“We never looked like conceding a goal so it was a bit of a kick in the teeth the way we threw away a good win.
“But hopefully we have a good game to look forward to at The Hawthorns.
“We had a good few chances, especially that one for James Morrison in the first half that Rom passed back after I played it in.
“That went inches past the post and things like that can kill off teams.
“But credit to QPR. They’re having a tough time at the moment but they kept going and got that vital goal to get them another chance."
And Long insists he enjoyed playing alongside Romelu Lukaku as the pair featured together in Steve Clarke’s starting line-up for only the second time this season.
“It was enjoyable,” added Long.
“Rom is a big strong lad who puts himself about.
“He worked hard in the first half and, with the formation they played, it was difficult to attack because they had three at the back and two holding midfielders.
“It was more or less five versus two so it was difficult to get on the ball.
“But when they changed their formation in the second half they got into the game more and Rom had a few chances to score - and brought a few people into the game as well.
“It was enjoyable.
“I am comfortable playing with one up front but for five or six years of my career I played as a two, so it’s something I’m used to and I don’t mind adapting to however the head coach wants to play.
“I felt like I was playing well but the head coach wanted to change it because we had a lot of games over Christmas and, to be fair to Rom, he scored goals and played well so the head coach stuck with him.
“But hopefully I’m still high in his thoughts and he will throw me in again sooner rather than later.”