Kevin Long admits that he was shocked to receive his initial Republic of Ireland call-up back in June, but that feeling quickly wore off.

Once he was in the squad his sole intention was to force his way into manager Martin O’Neill’s first team - something he did for the crunch World Cup 2018 Group D qualifier against Austria at the Aviva Stadium.

That game ended in a 1-1 draw and now that he has had a taste of international action, the Burnley man is determined to feature in the forthcoming games against Georgia and Serbia.

"My initial feeling was shock that I was in the squad, but once I was in the squad I was competing for a place in my mind," said the Cork-born defender.

"I was in the squad so I wanted to be playing - once I got in I was working hard in training trying to get in the team.

"To get the start against Austria was obviously massive - the manager showing faith in me was good for my confidence.

"He must have seen something in what I was doing in training. When I go out I always give 100 per cent and come game-day when the manager picks the team you want to be part of it.

"It was massive; to represent your country in a qualifying game as big as it was was massive."

Long in action against Austria

Ireland are joint-top of the group with Serbia, who they take on in Dublin on Tuesday.

First up is an away date on Saturday against a Georgia team who are second from bottom of the table (5pm, live on RTÉ).

"They’re massive games and we can only focus on the first one ahead," said Long.

"We have to work hard in training and hopefully everyone gets through injury free.

"There’s massive competition for places so that makes everyone work harder because everyone wants to pull on that jersey and get into the starting 11."

Long has only played once for Burnley so far this season, in the League Cup, and he has been an unused substitute in their three Premier League games to date.

He’s hoping to play for Ireland in the next two games in order to help kick-start his season, though he knows it won’t be easy to catch O’Neill’s eye.

"I think everyone’s in the same boat," he explained.

"Everyone wants to play and all you can do is work hard on the training ground because there’s such competition for places. Everyone thinks they’ll have a chance of playing so it’s up to us to make the manager make a decision.

"I’m itching to play - every footballer just wants to play games and I’m no different. I’ve played in the cup but not in the league so far and that’s frustrating.

"All I can do is work hard and make sure I’m ready to step up when the call is made."