Shane Long: Nobody will fancy playing against Ireland at Euro 2012

The Ireland international is relishing the prospect of his first major tournament and said that his club boss Roy Hodgson is the right choice to lead the England team
Shane Long says even tournament favourites Spain won't like having to play Ireland this summer as the Boys in Green will prove to be stiff opponents.

In an interview with the West Brom striker said: "I don’t think anyone will fancy playing against us because we’re tough to beat.

"We defend well, and not just the in back four – right from the front, we’re very hard to break down. Plus, we’ve got players who can always pop up with a goal or two on the break.

"We have a good balance there, and the fact we went eight or nine games without conceding during the qualifiers is no coincidence. I think we can cause a few upsets," said the Tipperary born player.

The 25-year old was named in Giovanni Trapattoni's 23-man squad on Monday and said he can't wait to get his first taste of a major tournament.

"It’s an exciting time for Ireland and my big hope is that we can do ourselves justice," he said.

"Getting out of the group stage (is our target). Spain are obviously going to be big favourites to top our group, and rightly so, but our aim has to be to get that second spot. Getting results against Croatia and Italy is going to be vital in making sure that we qualify. If we can start with a positive result against Croatia, that will set us up nicely for the next two games."

The former Reading hitman could come up against his current club manager Roy Hodgson at Euro 2012 in a potential Ireland vs England quarter final. Hodgson will soon depart the Hawthorns to take over as Three Lions boss and his appointment was welcomed by the forward.

"He’s a great manager and he thoroughly deserves to get his chance now," said Long about the manager who paid £6.5m for his services last summer.

"We know how much pride he takes in being English and I think it has always been one of his ambitions to coach the national side. He knows everything about every position. He’s been in the game such a long time that he’s been there and seen it all."

When quizzed if Ireland could do a Greece and go all the way and lift the European Championship the player concluded: "There’s always a team that comes in every year and causes an upset. So who knows? That could be any one of us."