Burnley boss Sean Dyche has no qualms about bringing Kevin Long in against Manchester City
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The Republic of Ireland international hasn’t kicked a ball for the first team since February last year, when he played in the 1-1 draw with Fulham at Turf Moor.
But he will start against Pep Guardiola’s men on Saturday, with captain Ben Mee injured and Nathan Collins suspended after his red card at Brentford three weeks ago.
Long has been a loyal servant to the club, joining in January 2010 as Owen Coyle’s last signing, but has only made 85 appearances in the following 12 years or so – making half as many in two loan stints at neighbours Accrington Stanley.
The most league games he has played in a season with Burnley is 16 in 2017/18, as the club finished seventh in the Premier League and qualified for the Europa League, but he has proved an able deputy to the likes of Michael Duff, Jason Shackell, Michael Keane, Mee and James Tarkowski.
And Dyche said: "He's been here a long time, he knows how we work, he knows the challenge, and he's been in some big games before.
"That's part and parcel of it, he's played international football as well.
"He's forever in and around it, and on the verge of things, and this season, Nathan (Collins) played because Longy had been out for quite a long time.
"It was just a common sense thing, Nathan had done a full pre-season, was totally fit,and but for that, Longy would probably have started earlier on in the season, and then Nathan has done very well since and earned the right.
"That's sometimes how football is, sometimes you need a bit of luck as an individual, injuries and fitness at the right times, but Longy is a very good professional and looks after himself.
"I've always had great admiration for all our player who aren't starting all the time, Kevin knows the respect I have for him, because he's had limited time playing but always looks after himself and is ready to go.”