Journalist Tom Barclay reckons that Southampton striker Shane Long could become an option for Ralph Hasenhuttl.
Long has hardly had a look-in this season, but Barclay believes that the 86-cap Republic of Ireland international remains in the frame at St Mary’s.
What’s the latest news with Shane Long?
Long has featured just once in the Premier League this season and has played just 65 minutes across all competitions.
However, Hasenhuttl surprisingly said after the 4-0 defeat at Liverpool last month that he almost threw the 34-year-old in for a shock start Anfield.
Long hasn’t started a Premier League game since a victory over Fulham last Boxing Day, which ultimately saw the Saints manager name Che Adams as the central striker alongside Adam Armstrong and Armando Broja.
Read More – January Transfer Window 2022: When does it open, when does it close and which players are going to move?
It proved numerical, with Southampton comfortably beaten on Merseyside, part of a four-match unbeaten run that they find themselves on.
Only Wolves (12) and Norwich (8) have scored fewer league goals than Southampton’s 14 this season, with Adams and Broja on three apiece, whilst Armstrong has only been able to add one goal since his debut strike at Everton on the opening day.
But Barclay reckons that Hasenhuttl has plenty of different options at the top end of the pitch.
What did Barclay say about Long?
He told GIVEMESPORT: “He said after the Liverpool game, he was very close to giving Shane Long a start.
“I don’t think that anyone would have had any thoughts that he would be anywhere near the first-team, because of his age and they have strikers that are scoring goals. In the end he didn’t, but that shows you it’s another option he’s got to mix it up and it can only be a good thing.”
Football Terrace DEBATE: Can Ralf Rangnick win a trophy at Man United?
Could Long start against Arsenal?
Hasenhuttl’s comments after the Liverpool defeat would suggest that Long remains in his plans.
However, the fact that he didn’t even end up coming off the bench and then didn’t play a single minute against Leicester or Brighton speaks volumes about how close Long is to starting a game.
Long has been on the bench in eight of the last nine Premier League games, but even when the Saints have been losing, the experienced striker has continuously been overlooked.
With just more than six months remaining on his St Mary’s contract, he’s probably more likely to leave the club before he gets a chance to start in the league.