McGrath: Long as important to Ireland as Aguero is to Manchester City

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The Southampton attacker will be a key component in Martin O'Neill's team at the tournament in France, acccording to the former Ireland defender

Shane Long is as important to the Republic of Ireland as Sergio Aguero is to Manchester City, according to Paul McGrath.

Ireland get their Euro 2016 odyssey under way on Monday, June 13, against Sweden at the Stade de France in Paris. They then face Belgium on June 18 before concluding their Group E fixtures against Antonio Conte's Italy on June 22.

And McGrath, who played for the Boys in Green at the European Championship in 1988, believes that Long will be the key player for Martin O'Neill's team at the tournament in France, suggesting that he is "just as good as" Aguero in terms of movement off the ball.

“Shane Long is the Irish player who can make a real impact on the tournament,” the former Manchester United defender told the Irish Daily Mirror. "He is the one I wouldn’t want to play against because he has a brain, he is quick and strong.

"He is from a Gaelic background so he has that ability to knock people around. If they want to mix him, he can do that as well.


"He is just as good as Sergio Aguero at running off the shoulders of defenders. They both have it down to a fine art of arcing their runs and knowing the exact moment to make their move.

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"When you do it right, and the ball is good enough, you are through on goal. And no-one can stop you – there is nothing you can do about it as a defender except bring him down and if you do that, you are off.

"He is as important for Ireland as Aguero is for Manchester City – and as important as Roy Keane used to be for Ireland.

"I am delighted for Shane because he is one of those unsung heroes who will run and chase for the team all day."

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