SHANE Long is on a one-man recruitment drive for Giovanni Trapattoni and he's found two defenders to add to an ever growing list -- Sean Morrison and Alex Pearce.
Trapattoni's claim that he has a long list of potential declarees was lost amid the furore over James McCarthy and, to some degree, taken with a pinch of salt.
But judging by what Long said yesterday after launching the FAI's An Post Summer Schools, Trapattoni (pictured below) wasn't exaggerating when he offered the prospect of an increasing number of possibilities emerging via FIFA's eligibility rules.
Long returned to Reading with another name to consider and will make it his business to have a chat with England U21 goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
Morrison qualifies with two Irish grandparents while Pearce was born in Oxford, represented Scotland twice at U21 level and clearly has a complicated lineage.
Alex McCarthy but I
knew about Seán alright. Sean Morrison is a bit of an Irish name," he said with a laugh. "I knew he wanted to. I think there's another lad, Alex Pearce, a centre-back going for it. There's a few coming out of the woodwork."
"I'm not too sure about Alex. He's a top goalkeeper, he's played for England U21s there during the week and kept a clean sheet in a 4-0 win over Denmark. He's top quality so if he does decide to play for Ireland it would be a boost."
Long is happy to work as a scout for Trapattoni and has given the Italian a resounding vote of confidence and a nudge to the FAI to sit and talk terms for another two years.
"Definitely, I think every player learns so much from him. I know me personally, I do anyway. He tells you things when, after he tells you, are so simple but something you don't think about and it adds to your game a lot.
"It's just his experience, being in the game for so long. He's added to every player's game and the longer he's over (in) Irish football the better for it."
Long is happy to credit Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli for the huge improvement in his strike rate this season and he puts it down to some personal attention from the Ireland management duo.
"Yeah, him and Marco, the two of them kind of look after me a bit and train me up a bit. When I come into the Irish squad, I learn something new every time. I suppose how can't you learn from a World Cup winner and a manager of his accolades. Yeah, they've definitely added to my game a lot and are part of the reason why I'm scoring."
He has a pragmatic view of the route Trapattoni has chosen to accumulate Euro 2012 qualifying points.
"We're joint top of the table and in a great position of making the Europeans," he said.
"It's working for us. We're getting results on the board I think sometimes in the past we wouldn't do.
"We maybe drew games we should have won. It worked for Italy as well in all their years of football.
"I think it's the right way to go. If you're 1-0 up, it's just as good as a 4-0 win, you still get the three points on the board. It's the right way to go I think.
"Russia and Slovakia have a lot of tough games away to go to. Slovakia have to come here and the one big game which stands out for us is the game in Russia. I think we can pull out a result there and if we do that, it puts us in a great position.
"First we have to look to beat Macedonia again in the summer.
"It's going to be hard out there in the heat but I'm sure we'll be well up for it and three points there could go a long way."