Shane Long will complete the perfect week when he leads Ireland out for Sunday’s friendly against Georgia. The 26-year-old West Brom striker has been handed the captain’s armband for what will be his 36th senior appearance for his country with manager Giovanni Trapattoni fielding a much-changed side. Long’s honour comes just days after he gave Ireland a dream lead against England at Wembley, and he said: “I didn’t think the week could get any better after Wednesday night.” Long added: “It was obviously a great thing for me to score at Wembley, but I think the biggest honour you can get is to captain your country and I was delighted to get the nod from the gaffer.” Long was only informed of his elevation after training in Malahide on Saturday morning when Trapattoni called him to one side. He said: “The boss kept the team close to his chest. He asked how many caps I had – and I might have exaggerated a little bit. But he told me I was the most-capped player and he me wanted to lead the team out tomorrow, and obviously it is a personal highlight for me.” It will be the first time Long has captained a senior team, although he had plenty of experience as both a footballer and a hurler during his younger days. He said: “It’s the first time I have been captain in my senior career, so I am really excited. In underage football, I got the captaincy quite a bit, but I have always been the young one in every squad so far, so it’s nice to get the nod.” Trapattoni opted for Long as his captain after confirming his progression from young to senior player, something which came as a surprise to the frontman. “It kind of came up fairly quickly on me. I have been in the squad a long time, I suppose, I have been with the lads a long time,” Long added. “I always dreamt of this day coming, so I am delighted it’s finally here. Normally, I’m fairly quiet on the pitch, but I think tomorrow will be different and I will be trying to help out the team as best I can.” Press Association
(REUTERS)-Poland won 2-1 in Montenegro with goals from Robert Lewandowski and Lukasz Piszczek to move six points clear at the top of World Cup qualifying Group E after a pulsating clash on Sunday.The result left the Poles in charge midway through the campaign on 13 points from five games, six ahead of closest rivals Montenegro and Denmark, who were held 0-0 in Romania.Lewandowski curled home a superb 40th-minute free kick and, although Stefan Mugosa equalised just past the hour, Piszczek got the winner with a fine lob in the 82nd after the Poles missed a barrage of chances against their injury-hit opponents.The visitors had come close three times in the opening half before Lewandowski netted his eighth goal of the qualifying campaign, leaving goalkeeper Mladen Bozovic rooted to his line with a delightful strike from 25 metres.Lewandowski and Piszczek missed a pair of easy chances inside a minute on the hour and Poland were swiftly punished as Mugosa scored his first international goal with a thumping header after Damir Kojasevic’s teasing cross from the right.Poland pressed for a winner and right back Piszczek made amends for his earlier miss as he brilliantly side-footed the ball over Bozovic from inside the penalty area to silence a vociferous home crowd in the Adriatic nation’s capital.