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Long has provided an excellent attacking outlet for the Saints this season.

Starting XI of the Premier League's most underrated stars

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With the Premier League full of international superstars and local favourites, praise tends to be spread across the division from fans and journalists alike.

But who are the unsung heroes - those who go without the recognisition they rightly deserve for performances that shouldn't go unnoticed? 

Here's a starting XI of the Premier League's most underrated stars.

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Goalkeeper - Lukasz Fabianski

Since signing from Arsenal in 2014, the Swansea 'keeper has relished from the first-team opportunities afforded to him.

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His time with the Gunners was largely spent playing second fiddle to countryman Wojciech Szczesny, who is currently enduring a difficult spell on loan at Serie A's Roma. Meanwhile, Fabianski is one of vey few players still performing amicably in what has been a tough season for the Swans.

Right-Back - Daryl Janmaat

Janmaat is a marauding right-back who has, at times, provided the only attacking spark in a much-maligned Newcastle United side.

Newcastle United v Aston Villa - Premier League

Magpies fans have reluctantly had to get used to the threat of relegation in recent seasons, yet the Dutchman's performances have remained a positive amongst much negativity.

Centre-Back - Scott Dann

Crystal Palace's Dann has proved invaluable to Alan Pardew's defence, chipping in with valuable goals at various points this season.

At 28-years-old, the Englishman is in the prime of his career yet continues to be overlooked by Roy Hodgson, who could use someone of Dann's consistency.

Centre-Back - Craig Cathcart

Newly-promoted Watford have conceded just 28 league goals this season, joint fifth with Manchester City, with Northern Ireland international Cathcart largely responsible for that record.

Watford v Manchester City - Premier League

Whilst the majority of praise this season has gone to striking duo Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney, the 27-year-old defender has become an invaluable member at Vicarage Road with his commanding and solid performances.

Left-Back - Christian Fuchs

Leicester City are enjoying the type of season that football fans can only dream of. After an early season run of outscoring opponents despite conceding plenty, the Foxes have shipped just four league goals in 2016.

And the versatile Fuchs has played an integral part of what is now a strong back line. The Austrian has emerged a surprise leader at the King Power Stadium through his consistent performances, both going forward and defending.

Central Midfield - Glenn Whelan

Plenty has been made of Stoke City's elaborate dealings in recent transfer windows. The likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marko Arnautovic, Ibrahim Affelay and Bojan have all performed admirably since arriving, but the 32-year-old Whelan has arguably proved most vital.

Leicester City v Stoke City - Premier League

The Republic of Ireland international does a stellar job at winning the ball, marshalling the back line and providing creativity from deep, also playing in each of the Potters' 26 league games this season.

Central Midfield - Dan Gosling

Eddie Howe's Bournemouth have been a revelation since earning promotion to the Premier League - and Gosling has been largely responsible for their rise.

The 26-year-old is a hard working, tough tackling and technical midfielder who inspires by working tirelessly throughout the full 90 minutes and epitomises the grit and determination shown by the Cherries this season.

Right Midfield - Aaron Lennon

The 28-year-old came through the ranks as a highly-rated youngster at Leeds United - it was after his move to Tottenham, however, that Lennon really made his name.

Stoke City v Everton - Premier League

Injuries and subsequent dips in form saw his career plummet, yet his arrival at Everton has seen Lennon's quick feet, fierce pace and finishing come back to the fore alongside Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Gerard Deulofeu.

Attacking Midfield - Jason Puncheon

Puncheon is something of a journeyman in English football having represented 11 different clubs in his professional career, including non-league outfits Lewes and Fisher Athletic.

After a lively spell at Southampton, though, he seems to have found a home at Crystal Palace. The 29-year-old has scored ten goals in 75 league appearances for the Eagles and proved a valuable squad member with his ability to play anywhere across the midfield.

Left Midfield - Marc Albrighton

Leicester's attack has been nothing short of relentless this season. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have taken the majority of the plaudits, and quite rightly so, but on the left flank, former Aston Villa man Albrighton has been quietly going about his business in admirable fashion.

Leicester City v Watford - Premier League

Six assists in 26 league appearances is a respectable return, with the winger's pace, skill and link-up play proving particularly fruitful to Claudio Ranieri's side.

Striker - Shane Long

Irishman Long is quietly and unassumingly having a very good season. Six league goals in 18 appearances, five of which from the bench, is a decent record for someone who was suspected to play second fiddle to Graziano Pelle this season.

Relentless pace and work rate are undoubtedly Long's greatest weapons, yet the 29-year-old is deceivingly strong and dominant in the air, playing a vital role in Southampton's recent upturn in form.

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Topics:
Leicester City
Premier League
England Football
Southampton
Everton
Football

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