CLARETS boss Sean Dyche has tipped Kevin Long for a bright future, after describing his display against Brighton as “immense” and “outstanding”.

The defender earned back-to-back starts for the first time in over three years with Burnley, after contributing to a goalless draw at Middlesbrough.

Dyche felt it was a shame the young Irishman was not rewarded with another shut-out on the south coast, but suggested the centre half spot was now Long’s to lose, even with Michael Duff and Ben Mee on their way back from injury. “Kevin Long was immense – absolutely outstanding.

“He’s a young man who’s come out of the League of Ireland, wasn’t getting much of a look-in until we came in, and he was outstanding.

“If he keeps playing like that it will be hard to get him out of the team for whoever wants the shirt,” said the Burnley boss.

“I’m more interested in the whole team and what they’re doing, but he was part of the team and he was excellent.

“They brought the lad Ulloa in and he’s dealt with him pretty much, they brought Mackail-Smith and he didn’t look fazed or worried.

“I’m really, really pleased with his performance – among many others.

“That’s a clear sign of the younger end of our players. Laffs (Danny Lafferty) is still developing, so there are some youngsters out there who are learning their trade and doing a good job of it.”

Long has been loaned out to Accrington Stanley, Rochdale and Portsmouth since signing from Cork City in January 2010, halfway through the Clarets’ Premier League season.

“It’s hard to judge the perfect time to play,” said Dyche, who handed Long his full debut in the home game with Watford in December.

“He’d had a look-in earlier. He rolled his ankle afterwards and that probably stopped him from getting another couple of performances in. But he’s gone really strong and I thought he did very well against Middlesbrough the other night.

“Two performances in a week is a big thing for a young man, especially coming to an environment like this.

“There are clear signs that he wants to do well.

“He’s finding his feet as well. He’s had three appearances since I’ve been here and he's maturing quickly.

“Maybe the extra time he’s been given and the loan spells have stood him in good stead.

“He looks an interesting one at the moment for us.”