Saints news: 87-cap forgotten man 'not completely out of picture' after Ralph name-check

Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl

Shane Long still has an important role to play despite becoming a bit-part player at Southampton, according to The Sun journalist Tom Barclay.

Long has enjoyed just 36 minutes of Premier League action since the season got underway back in August.

What’s the latest news involving Long?

Long appears to be nearing the end of his Southampton career as his current deal, worth £60,000-per-week, is set to run out next summer.

The 87-cap Republic of Ireland frontman has been on Saints’ books since joining in a deal reported to be worth £12million from Hull City in 2014.

But he has failed to become a regular goalscorer at St Mary’s, finding the back of the net just 35 times in 230 appearances.

Despite still waiting for his first start of the campaign, Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has claimed Long plays a key role helping the youngsters behind the scenes at Staplewood and ruled out the possibility of the 34-year-old sealing an exit during the upcoming transfer window.

While Long has found his opportunities limited, there are signs that he could feature more often during the second half of the season as Hasenhuttl admitted he narrowly missed out on starting the defeat to Liverpool last month, so he clearly remains in the Austrian’s thoughts.

Long also came off the bench for a 20-minute cameo appearance during Saints’ most recent outing at Crystal Palace last week.

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What has Tom Barclay said about Long?

Despite being without a Premier League goal since netting against Aston Villa in February 2020, Barclay still feels Long will be given game-time between now and the end of the season.

However, the journalist is aware the striker does not have a long-term future at Southampton.

Barclay told GIVEMESPORT: “Shane Long is not completely out of the picture. He came off the bench at Crystal Palace and Ralph Hasenhuttl has name-checked him a few times of late.

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“He said he was going to play him against Liverpool but then changed his mind.

“He’s obviously not a long-term solution at his age but he still has something to offer with all of his experience.”

Who is keeping Long out of the starting XI?

Long is one of four strikers at Hasenhuttl’s disposal, with the Irishman battling Armando Broja, Adam Armstrong and Che Adams for regular minutes.

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Broja, who joined on a season-long loan from Chelsea during the summer, has started four of Saints’ last five fixtures and taken his tally up to six goals on the south coast.

Fellow summer arrival Armstrong, who cost £15million, has been included in Hasenhuttl’s starting line-up 14 times in all competitions and found the back of the net twice.

Adams has amassed four goals from 12 starts since the campaign got underway.

Read More – January Transfer Window 2022: When does it open, when does it close and which players are going to move?

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