THE LONG SHOT

Brent­ford loa­nee Chris Long wants to be Ever­ton and Eng­land’s No.9

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Ben Baker

CHRIS Long ini­tially jumped at the chance to join Brent­ford and team up with Ever­ton hero David Weir, but the striker ad­mits he is rapidly de­vel­op­ing a sim­i­lar ado­ra­tion for Mark War­bur­ton.

Hav­ing been on Ever­ton’s books since he was just five years old, Huy­ton-born Long’s af­fec­tion for the Tof­fees is as strong as they come.

But now, aged 20, Long is ea­ger to es­tab­lish him­self and joined Brent­ford on an ini­tial one-month loan deal in Jan­uary, hav­ing come off the bench for Ever­ton against FK Krasnodar in the Europa League the pre­vi­ous month.

Long’s sig­na­ture was much sought af­ter, but upon learn­ing that high-fly­ing Brent­ford, with for­mer Ever­ton cap­tain Weir as as­sis­tant manager, were in­ter­ested, the young­ster’s mind was made up.

Cel­e­brated

It took him five games to find the net, but while all those ap­pear­ances came from the sub­sti­tutes’ bench it did not stop the Eng­land U20s star from ex­tend­ing his stay in west Lon­don to at least March 21.

Long cel­e­brated his new deal by fir­ing Brent­ford back into the play-off places on Tues­day night, bag­ging two goals on his first start as Hud­der­s­field were put to the sword 4-1.

The dou­ble brought praise from Bees boss War­bur­ton. And while Long is only just re­al­is­ing his new manager’s tal­ent, their re­la­tion­ship is fast be­com­ing one of mu­tual re­spect.

“My agent rang me and said that a few Cham­pi­onship clubs were af­ter my sig­na­ture, but when I knew Brent­ford were keen I jumped at the chance,” said Long, who scored once in four games while on loan with MK Dons last sea­son.

“Brent­ford have been fly­ing this sea­son and that is why I joined. I al­ready knew a few of the boys, too, like Alex Pritchard with Eng­land and Jake Bidwell, who was with me at Ever­ton, and then when I saw that David Weir was the as­sis­tant manager my mind was made up.

“I first met David when I was with the un­der-6s at Ever­ton and he prob­a­bly didn’t even know who I was then, but it is great to have a familiar face to help you set­tle into a new club be­cause he was Ever­ton re­serves manager when I was just break­ing through there.

“But Mark War­bur­ton has been great with me since I have been here and I was made up with the praise I got af­ter the Hud­der­s­field game, about how he has watched my devel­op­ment for a long time.

“He is a great manager and leaves no stone un­turned. He is re­ally ded­i­cated to it all and just knows how to get three points.

“I wasn’t that frus­trated about start­ing from the bench be­cause when I ar­rived the team were fly­ing and he was keen to keep the same team, and I knew I was here to help An­dre Gray out.

Great

“But to score two on my first start for the club was great and hope­fully I can con­tinue to find the net and re­pay Mark for be­liev­ing in me.”

Long’s bur­geon­ing re­la­tion­ship with War­bur­ton is des­tined to be a short-term af­fair, how­ever, with Brent­ford look­ing else­where for a manager for next sea­son de­spite their cur­rent high-fly­ing cam­paign.

“All we want to do is help the gaffer leave in the best pos­si­ble way and we are still aim­ing to get pro­moted,” he added.“The play­ers haven’t let the news about Mark af­fect us and we are all just con­cen­trat­ing on get­ting pro­moted. If I could do that, it would be the best thing I have done in my ca­reer so far and a great thing to have on my CV.

“I am still in con­tact with Ever­ton quite a bit and, af­ter my goals against Hud­der­s­field, Roberto Martinez (manager) and Dun­can Fer­gu­son (coach) both texted me which was great.

“The dream is to be the Ever­ton and Eng­land No.9 but for now I am fo­cus­ing on get­ting Brent­ford pro­moted. I would love to stay here un­til the end of the sea­son and do that.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

AT THE DOU­BLE: Chris Long cel­e­brates scor­ing his sec­ond for the Bees in their 4-1 romp against Hud­der­s­field. Inset: David Weir, left, and Mark War­bur­ton

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