Burnley defender Kevin Long admitted that a call-up to the Republic of Ireland international squad has rounded off an almost perfect month for him.
The 26-year-old has been included in Martin O’Neill’s 38-man squad for friendly internationals with Mexico and Uruguay along with the crucial World Cup qualifying clash at home to Austria.
Being named in the squad completes a remarkable turn-around for Long, who has endured a miserable time with injuries since joining Burnley from Cork City seven years ago.
The centre-back made his Premier League debut against Newcastle on New Years Day 2015 but suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury which kept him sidelined for the best part of a year.
Several other smaller injuries and loan periods followed, but Long has worked his way back into the Burnley reckoning and made his first start for the club against West Brom two weeks ago.
His form for the Clarets has seen him force his way into the Ireland squad and while Long admits that he’s focused on cementing a place in the Burnley team for the moment, he’s delighted with international recognition.
Speaking on 2FM’s Game On, he said: "It’s been brilliant. Obviously it’s been a long, hard and frustrating season not playing but the two lads ahead of me have been brilliant all season so I couldn’t really complain.
"Thankfully, I’ve got my chance in the last few weeks and done really well and the Ireland call-up just tops it all off.
"I got asked the question last week ‘was I thinking about and Ireland call-up?’ I said truthfully at the time that I wasn’t. I was just trying to concentrate on my club career and playing more games and then maybe something could happen in the future.
"When I found out I was absolutely delighted."
Long’s return to prominence has been down to patience and hard work and he’s happy to see things take an up-turn now.
"It’s been a frustrating couple of years," he admitted. "When I came on against Newcastle a few years ago to make my actual debut I ended up doing my ACL and was out for the best part of a year.
"I’ve just had a few niggles coming back since then and various loans spells so it’s been frustrating but hopefully things are starting to look up now."
"I haven’t set any aims yet, I’ll just concentrate on the game with West Ham at the weekend and then obviously I’ll met up with Ireland and take it from there."