In what can only be good news for the Ireland national side, Shane Long has hit something of a run of form at Southampton.
Mindful of the recent £15m signing of striker Manolo Gabbiadini, the pressure has been on Long to maintain his good form to keep his place in Claude Puel’s side. Indeed, the Italian international scored twice on Saturday against relegation-threatened Sunderland to begin paying back his fee.
However, it was to be Long who had the final say, replacing Gabbiadini late on and rounding off the scoring in a comfortable 4-0 win with a fine finish in stoppage time.
Indeed while the former Reading and Cork City striker’s finish deserves kudos, more should be made of the well-worked assist from Saints teammate James Ward-Prowse, with an inch-perfect pass using the outside of his boot.
Long has now scored four goals in seven games in all competitions – a run which, should he maintain it further, will be great news for Martin O’Neill and Ireland leading up to a massive World Cup qualifier against Wales in Dublin next month.
On a personal level, he will also be hoping that his form will be enough to win him a place in Southampton’s starting eleven for the upcoming EFL Cup final against Manchester United