Shane Long is to be handed a chance to stake his claim as Southampton’s main striker in this week’s Capital One Cup quarter final.
Graziano Pelle received his fifth booking of this season in the 1-0 defeat at Burnley this weekend and the card will see him sit out the midweek fixture through suspension.
The Italian’s absence will see Long given the chance in his more preferred central role as the Saints aim to halt a run of defeats to reach the semi finals.
Long has had to wait patiently for his chance since joining Southampton from Hull this summer as Graziano Pelle has been Ronald Koeman’s first choice.
That has seen the Irishman utilised in a wide role that he is not completely comfortable with.
However, with the chance to cement his place in team coming this week, Long will be looking to get on the score sheet and help the Saints advance to the semi final.
One thing that Long will spur Long on is the chances that have come and gone for him in recent weeks.
Ronald Koeman singled out a couple of missed chances in the game against Manchester United from the striker, something which may spur him on to impress.
With only three goals to his name this season, Long is still to pay back the majority of the £12 million fee Southampton paid for him this summer.
With a Capital One Cup semi final place on the line this week, it seems like the perfect match to get back amongst the goals.
If he doesn’t start adding the end product to his game, he may start to become a disappointing signing for Ronald Koeman.
Having paid a large fee for his services this summer due to his knowledge of the Premier League, Long was expected to bring a high work-rate and goals.
Without goals though he becomes an expensive player for work-rate alone, and he might go down as a disappointment on the South coast.
Sending his new club to the semi finals this week though would be a good start in making a name for himself in red and white.