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'If it’s not to be then I will look to pastures new, but I don’t want that'

With just one year remaining on his contract, Shane Long has addressed his future at Southampton.

Southampton striker Shane Long.
Southampton striker Shane Long.
Image: Adam Davy

SHANE LONG HAS expressed his desire to remain at Southampton as he prepares to enter the final year of his contract.

However, the Republic of Ireland striker feels he’s not in a position to demand an extension to his current deal, which is due to expire in the summer of 2020.

Long has overcome a barren spell in front of goal to score three times in his last four appearances for the Premier League club.

The most recent of those — an opener after just 7.69 seconds of Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Watford — was the fastest goal in Premier League history.

With the Saints close to securing their top-flight status for another year, manager Ralph Hasenhüttl will look to put his own stamp on the squad he inherited from Mark Hughes in December.

Long, who moved to Southampton from Hull City in 2014, is hoping to be part of the 51-year-old Austrian’s plans for the club.

“I have only got a year left on my contract and I don’t think I’ve earned the right to go knocking on the door and asking for more years,” the Tipperary native told The Southern Daily Echo.

“I think the club is an amazing club and the people here like the way I approach the game, the way I train and the way I am in the dressing room. As a striker you need goals and I am trying to put my case forward between now and the end of the season.”

Southampton host Bournemouth on Saturday, before closing out their season with games against West Ham United (away) and Huddersfield Town (home).

Long is then likely to turn his attention towards Ireland’s double header of Euro 2020 qualifiers against Denmark and Gibraltar in June, which will be preceded by a training camp in Portugal. 

Regarding his future at club level, the 32-year-old said: “Everyone knows I love it here and I know next season is going to be a big season because of the confidence the manager has instilled around the place and I want to be a part of that.

“If it does come to it at the end of the season and I’m not wanted anymore, then I will still look back on my career at Southampton as a good time and something to be really proud of.

“It’s hard to validate giving a new deal out if you aren’t getting the goals or the results on the pitch. I am working as hard as I can to try and sway it in my direction and if it’s not to be then I will look to pastures new, but I don’t want that.”  

Of his recent goalscoring form, Long added: “It’s only three goals in four games, but I am hoping it’s the start of a big turnaround in my career. When the team is losing, and the manager wants goals, I don’t think he was going to be looking at me and I needed to turn that around.” 

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Paul Dollery

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