Fit-again striker relishing Albion challenge
SHANE Long insists he is ready to come out ‘all guns blazing’ after shaking off a series of niggling injuries.
The Baggies striker has been restricted to only three Barclays Premier League starts so far this term.
But he believes he is now in a good position to challenge the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe for a more regular starting role in attack.
“I am finally injury-free but it’s hard to break back into the team when they’re doing so well,” said Long.
“I feel good and the international break was when I got my full fitness back.
“It’s always a privilege to go away with your country.
“I didn’t get on the pitch at all so it was frustrating, but nobody has a divine right to play, and it was nice to meet up with the lads.
“Maybe a break to get my fitness and come back here all guns blazing might not have been a bad thing.
“I’m glad to be back here and glad to be pushing for my place back in the team for this week.”
Long has fired eight goals in each of his last two top-flight seasons with the Baggies – but he says competition for places at The Hawthorns has never been more fierce.
“It’s a battle now,” he added.
“Even on Saturday there were two people left out in Goran Popov and Markus Rosenberg - and six people training back at the training ground.
“It’s a privilege to get in the first 18, never mind the first 11, and it’s good for the team and shows how far we’ve come, and what we expect to achieve over the next couple of years.
“It’s a headache for the head coach but it pushes us all as players.
“There are 25 or 26 players and everyone wants to play - but that can’t happen.
“So, there will be some disappointed people, but as long as the team keeps performing and getting points out of every game you can’t complain.
“You’ve just got to keep trying and grab your chance when it comes.
“I am coming back from injury and when I was injured the lads were getting points out of every game, so you can’t really complain that you’re not straight back in the team when you’re fit again.
“I’m just biding my time and hopefully I will come on and make an impact in games, and convince the head coach to start me.”