The West Brom striker has struggled to convince bosses at international level that he is capable of leading the line, with many of his appearances having come off the bench.
He has, however, earned the trust of Giovanni Trapattoni and currently finds himself ahead of Kevin Doyle, Andy Keogh, Simon Cox and Conor Sammon in the attacking pecking order.
Long is aware that he now needs to justify his manager's faith and help fire Ireland to the 2014 World Cup.
The West Bromwich Albion striker said: "I do feel now it's time I stepped up.
"The thing is, we have great competition for strikers in the squad. There are the likes of Jonny Walters, Andy Keogh and Conor Sammon.
"Kevin Doyle didn't even get in the squad, which shows the depth we have. And that fighting for places is good for the squad.
"I got the nod against Sweden and it's up to me now to keep that starting position and that's what I intend to do."
Long is confident that Ireland can reach Brazil 2014, with a goalless draw in Sweden on Friday having kept them in the hunt for a play-off spot.
Ahead of a crucial home date with Austria on Tuesday, Long added: "It was not easy to go to Sweden and get a point, but we are happy with our performance. We will go into Tuesday night full of confidence.
"It's a massive game. Austria will be on a high after beating the Faroe Islands, it's going to be a tough game. We're under no illusions but I think we need to be winning those games to qualify for the play-offs.
"Nobody expected us to top the group. Germany were always going to be favourites and Friday's draw can be a turning point in the group for us.
"Hopefully we can go on and get the three points against Austria and really take a big step towards the play-offs."