Brady aiming for World Cup glory
Clarets pair Brady and Long ready for tests in season ahead
Robbie Brady already has Georgia on his mind as he plans twin successes in the World Cup qualifiers and in the Premier League in the months to come.
Brady admits that he was unsettled for spells in 2017, a consequence of his mid-season move to Burnley from Norwich last term, and with only seven Premier League starts for the Clarets last season he was unable to make the impact he'd hoped for.
The boy from Baldoyle was on familiar turf, though, last week as his Burnley team-mates spent a few days in Ireland on a pre-season training camp, including a 4-0 win over Shamrock Rovers where Brady and compatriot Jon Walters - a recent signing by Sean Dyche - both scored.
That Irish colony at Burnley - now five-strong - has less than a month to wait for the beginning of the Premier League season, a testing start for the Clarets as their first game is away to champions Chelsea.
But Brady also has that September double-header in the World Cup in his thoughts, Ireland away to Georgia before a key date at home to Serbia.
"Of course it is. It never leaves your head," says Brady when asked if he was already thinking ahead to the game in Tbilisi.
"You want to do well and you want to achieve things with your country first and foremost. All eyes on that, at all stages, for me and we'll be looking to push on now.
"We're in a good position, we've a lot of tough games coming up. We'll be preparing as best we can coming into the games and I'm more than confident we've got enough to push for it so we'll just need to do what we do right and get the job done," added Brady, confident that the addition of Walters will also benefit the national team, as that Irish quintet at Turf Moor will spend so much time together.
"it's great. We were only talking about that the other day. The more we get in, the handier it will be when we get in, we'll know how each other play. So it's great," he says.
"He [Walters] is unbelievable off the pitch. On the pitch, he's determined. He's so much to offer, I can't speak highly enough of him. So he's got a lot to bring and can have a good season.
"It feels like Jonny has been here for six months rather than six days. He's been great, a great addition to the team and everything has been top class so far."
Walters will look to make an instant impact with the club - and he is already off the mark in terms of goals as he scored his first for the club in last week's win over Rovers - but it was a slow start to life for Brady at the club.
"Definitely, it was stop start. I found it difficult at the start," he says.
"I got myself in and then back out and then back in. These things happen in football - or so I'm told, I don't want them happening much.
"So I'll be working as hard as I can to make sure that I'm starting and have the most opportunities. I don't know what it was," he says of his introduction.
"But I've had a couple of weeks off, I've had time to think and I've approached this season well so far. So I'll keep it going," added Brady, confident that his days as a left back are over and that Dyche sees him solely in a midfield role.
One man who is keen to play in defence on a regular basis for the club - and his country - is Cork man Kevin Long, who enjoyed a run in the Clarets side towards the end of the Premier League season and was then pitched into the Ireland team, starting in the qualifier at home to Austria.
And he hopes that his new-found international status, and the exit to Everton of rival Michael Keane, will assist.
"Last year, we had Michael Keane and Ben Mee. The two of them played almost every single game for the best part of two years. They were two of our best players," Long says.
Up for grabs
"Keano is gone now and there's a place up for grabs. All I can do in pre-season is play well in the games, hopefully I can take the gaffer's eye and get in the team. Hopefully, i f I do, I want to do well and stay there.
"It's up to me and the other lads that are here to prove we're good enough to be in the team and stake our place to stay in the team.
"I've played a few games for Ireland now and I want to stay there. That's where you want to be. The only way to do that is to get into the Burnley team and stay there. So hopefully that can happen."
" All I can do is work hard in pre-season and hopefully come the start of the season I'll be in the team. That's all I can hope for."