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CCF Rebooted 37: Kevin Long
Tuesday, 26th Jul 2022 10:52 by AtThePeake

One of few men to come out of the 2011/2012 season with any credit was young Burnley loanee Kevin Long.

Position: Centre-back

Arrived from: Burnley (loan)

Left for: Burnley (end of loan)

Appearances: 16

Goals: 0

In a team that struggled to balance youth with experience and appeared to be strugglingto find a winning formula in it's first few months under the now maligned management duo of John Coleman and Jimmy Bell, Long showed maturity beyond his years and was one of the better players in the squad during the final months of the season as Dale headed towards relegation.

Of course, in time a fair few Cork-born players will feature in this column but Kevin Long is perhaps the first. By 18, he was in the first-team at Turner's Cross featuring for Cork City and after 18 appearances he was snapped up by Burnley, who beat away competition from the likes of Everton and Celtic to secure his signature.

After moving to Turf Moor in January 2010, Long was moved out on loan to Accrington Stanley in October but got off to a terrible start when he was sent off after 17 minutes on debut for a foul on former Dale forward Adam Le Fondre. Once he returned from suspension however, Long turned in some impressive performances, leading to his initial one-month spell to be extended until January.

By the summer, the defender found himself back at Stanley on another six-month loan deal and he was even more impressive during this spell and he developed a knack of popping up with a goal too, scoring four times in his 24 appearances at the start of the 2011/2012 campaign.

In fact, Long impressed so much during that spell at the Crown Ground that when Stanley's manager, the aforementioned Coleman, was poached by Dale, the Liverpudlian boss moved to bring him in again on an initial one-month loan deal.

Despite still being of a tender age, Long showed an intelligence and strength beyond his years and instinctively, you knew that he would be set for a career at a higher level based on his showings in what was, in all honesty, a terrible Rochdale team. Form immediately improved after his arrival as the team kept two clean sheets and lost just one of his first four games.

After that success, Long's loan contract was extended for the remainder of the season but there was only so much he could do to help arrest Dale's slide over a longer term.

Capable of doing everything expected of an 'old-fashioned' centre back, Long also looked comfortable on the ball but perhaps wasn't able to show that as much as we'd have liked given the make up of the side at the time. He was however a stand-out player for us during his short-lived spell.

He started the next season on loan at Portsmouth and he appeared five times in the early stages of the season as Pompey looked to build their squad for the season. However, a back injury ended his time at Fratton Park.

Before the end of that campaign though, Long would break into the Burnley side briefly and make 14 appearances, before another injury forced him out of the team. In the following season he featured seven times as the Clarets won promotion to the Premier League, but unsurprisingly saw opportunities limited in the top tier and indeed again the following year as Sean Dyche's side were relegated, then immediately won promotion back to the top tier again.

He did make one appearance during that season in the Premier League though, being subbed on for the injured Jason Shackell after 17 minutes, only to be substituted with an injury of his own before the half-time whistle.

During that second promotion campaign, Long spent time out on loan at both Barnsley (11 appearances and two goals) and Milton Keynes (two appearances, no goals) but didn't feature at all for his parent club until they were back in the Premier League.

Since then, Long has been a solid back-up option for the Clarets, without ever being able to force out the likes of James Tarkowski or Ben Mee for a starting position at Turf Moor. He's racked up 69 league appearances at the time of writing for the Lancashire club, scoring one league goal in a home win over Leicester in 2018.

He has also been capped 17 times by the Republic of Ireland since debuting in 2017, scoring once in a friendly victory over Bulgaria. He will be hoping to appear more regularly for Burnley following the club's relegation to the Championship and the departure of the long-serving duo of Tarkowski and Mee this summer.

Photo: Action Images

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