Football - Long eyeing prolonged Clarets' role

Kevin Long hopes his nomadic existence in the loan market is at an end and he can become a regular fixture in the Burnley first-team.

PA Sport

Long played his third game for the Clarets, making a first start for two months in Tuesday's goalless draw with Middlesbrough - a decision that came as a welcome surprise from boss Sean Dyche.

"I found out just before the game, about an hour before kick-off," he said. "He usually names the team the day before but for some reason he left it to just before the game.

"All I can do is help keep a clean sheet and I've done that so hopefully I'll stay in the team."

Three consecutive loan spells with Accrington were followed by stints at Rochdale and Portsmouth for the 22-year-old Irishman.

Although this was not part of Long's plan to establish himself in English football, he feels the time away from Turf Moor has been vital to his development.

"It was tough when you keep going away and there's new players coming in all the time but I've been around the club now nearly all this season so I feel a lot more settled," he added.

"I didn't envisage it would be like this - I thought I'd just go straight into the team! But I needed the loan spells to gain experience.

"It was a much quicker pace (than I was used to) and when I came over I was very raw. I needed to work on a lot of things and the loan spells gave me a lot to work on."

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