David Weir, the Sheffield United manager, has hit back at critics who claimed George Long’s appearance in the England under-21 squad which faced Scotland at Bramall Lane earlier this month owed more to marketing than merit.
Weir was speaking after Gareth Southgate named Long in the 25 strong party which begins preparing for Euro 2015 qualifiers against Moldova and Finland next week.
“Personally I’m delighted for George because I know there will have been a lot of cynics out there,” Weir told The Star. “There will have been people saying he was only selected because the match was at our ground but I knew that was never the case.
“That’s just not the way international football works. George was called-up because he deserved to be, it’s as simple as that.
“The very fact that Gareth has kept him in there goes to prove it.”
Southgate, who yesterday appointed Chelsea’s assistant first team coach Steve Holland to the Young Lions’ backroom staff, takes charge of his first match when Alexandru Curtianu’s team visit Reading on September 5 before facing Finland in Tampere four days later.
With Sean McGinty set to win his latest Republic of Ireland cap against Germany on September 9, Weir will be without two first team players for next weekend’s visit to neighbours Rotherham.
“The fact we’ve got two lads being recognised by their countries is a positive, not a negative.” Weir, whose side entertain MK Dons tomorrow, said. “Sean has cemented his place with Ireland after coming here so it brings kudos to our football club and we should be proud of that.”