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Played For Both: Portsmouth v Dale
Wednesday, 26th Feb 2020 09:40 by Chaff

Our latest “Played for Both” features a centre half who is a full international, a Premier League player and has played on loan for both Dale and our opponents this week, Portsmouth.

Kevin Long joined Rochdale on loan from Premier League Burnley back in January 2012. John Coleman brought the Irish centre half in to strengthen our back line and knew what he was getting, having worked with Long at Accrington in two separate loan spells previously.

It’s not surprising we’ve had Kevin Long given the strong links we’ve had with the Irish league in recent years and Cork City in particular, which is where he started his footballing career. He signed his first professional deal in January 2008 and went on to play 16 games, scoring once before it became apparent, he was destined for bigger and better things.

The story goes that he was on his way to Preston for a trial period but was subject to interest from clubs such as Leeds, Charlton, Everton and Celtic before agreeing terms with Burnley. He signed in November 2009 but had to wait until January to join up with the clarets due to the transfer window rules.

John Coleman gave Long his English football league debut when he signed Long on loan from Burnley in October 2010. He made his debut at home to Rotherham but his debut only lasted 17 minutes as he was given a straight red card for a foul on former Rochdale striker Adam Le Fondre. A debut to forget you could say!

His loan deal was cut slightly short after his broke his foot but when he was back from injury on deadline day 2011, it was confirmed that he had re-joined Coleman’s side on loan until the end of the season. He went on to make 17 appearances that season and impressed during that time.

He impressed Accrington that much that they moved quickly to bring him back on loan for the first six months of the 2011/12 as well and his form continued as he played 26 games and scored 4 goals as well. He did pick up another red card though, this time away at Barnet early on in the season.

John Coleman left Accrington to join Rochdale who had recently sacked Steve Eyre and decided Chris Beech wasn’t the man to take over on a permanent basis. He arrived at Spotland on 24th January 2012 and just three days later, brought in Kevin Long on loan from Burnley after his loan at Accrington had finished.

Long’s debut at Dale came in a 3-0 hammering of former local rivals Bury at Spotland in what would be one of just a few highlights under Coleman in the end. Long remained at Dale for the rest of the season and went on to play 16 games for Dale and his class was evident. A very impressive loan spell which left us wanting him back but that never materialised as it was clear he was destined for a higher level than we could ever offer him.

In August 2012 Long joined Portsmouth on loan in League One. Long was red carded away at Carlisle for two yellows but his loan spell at Pompey was a short lived one as he picked up a back injury against Walsall which ended up being his last game.

He returned to Burnley and found himself in and around the first team picture for the Championship club.

He made his Burnley debut at home to Sheffield Wednesday on 2nd October and then went on to play 14 games that season.

The following season didn’t see him go out on loan anywhere and he played 11 times for Burnley and got his first goal for the club in an FA Cup defeat away at Southampton. It was to be a hugely successful season for Burnley who ended up securing a long-awaited promotion to the Premier League. They finished 2nd in the Championship with 93 points, having only lost 5 times all season.

Long made his Premier League debut away at Newcastle United on New Years Day but it was to be his only league game that season.

The 2015/16 season saw Long head back out on loan as it became apparent, he wouldn’t be able to break into the first team at Burnley who had been relegated from the Premier League after just one season. He went down the M1 to Oakwell to join Barnsley in League One from November until February. He had a mixed start to life at Oakwell as he scored on his debut at Boundary Park against Oldham Athletic but was given a straight red card away at Peterborough just three days later!

His second goal for Barnsley came in an absolutely battering of ourselves. Dale were put to the sword by a hugely impressive Barnsley side as they ran out 6-1 winners in which Long scored the last goal, deep into stoppage time in what was a pretty embarrassing day to be a Dale fan.

His loan at Barnsley ended in February 2016 and he ended up joining MK Dons in the Championship the following month for the remainder of that season but only managed to play twice before the end of the season.

Burnley bounced straight back to the Premier League for the 2016/17 season but only managed to play 3 games that season in the league along with an EFL Cup game against his former loan club Accrington Stanley. It wasn’t all doom and gloom that season for Long though as he received his first international recognition. As he was called up to the Ireland squad and made his international debut on June 1st in a 3-1 defeat to Mexico which took place in the hugely impressive MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, USA.

Burnley have now established themselves as a Premier League club under Sean Dyche and Kevin Long remains at the club but has yet to be able to establish himself as a first team regular. At the time of writing he’s played just 34 games in the last three seasons. He has got himself 13 caps for his country in that same time as well and got his first international goal against Bulgaria in September last year.

Long last played for Burnley over a month ago in their FA Cup defeat at home to Premier League strugglers Norwich City but his only league appearance came on Boxing Day against Everton.

Photo: Action Images

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