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'I don’t let things get to me': Shane Long relieved to end 279-day goal drought against Leicester

The 31-year-old scored his first goal for club or country since the start of April yesterday against Leicester City.

Long scored his first Premier League goal of the season on Saturday.
Long scored his first Premier League goal of the season on Saturday.
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

SHANE LONG ADMITS he was relieved to finally bring an end to his drought in front of goal, with the Ireland striker scoring his first goal in 279 days yesterday as Southampton secured a 2-1 win away to Leicester City.

The 31-year-old last scored for club or country during a 3-2 win against Arsenal on 8 April — a strike which brought an end to a previous goal drought which lasted 325 days.

Speaking after his side’s win at the King Power on Saturday, he said that his recent spell without finding the back of the net had been difficult, but that he was now happy to leave it behind and push on.

“It’s been hard,” he said. “I’ve felt like I’ve been playing well and I was really getting into my stride, but then I was out for six weeks with an ankle injury.

“Coming back into it with a new manager, it takes time to win him over, but everybody being injured helped me out to get that start today, and I’m delighted to get a goal.

“We’ve got good strikers at the club, so ultimately if you’re not scoring goals it’s hard to get into the team.”

Shane Long In action against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in October. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Long scored 20 goals in all competitions during his first two seasons at St Mary’s, but managed only five goals in the 2016/17 campaign and two goals in 34 appearances last year with the Saints.

The Tipperary man reflected that he feels a renewed sense of confidence since the arrival of new manager Ralph Hasenhüttl, with the club securing three Premier League wins in their last six games.

“I know he (Hasenhüttl) likes me as a player,” Long said. “But I’ve got to give him that excuse to start me in games.

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“I’m quite good with my mind. I don’t let things get to me – I don’t read articles, I don’t listen to things that are hammering me.

Southampton v Arsenal - Premier League - St Mary's Stadium Long scored Southampton's second goal at the King Power on Saturday. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

“I think the lads in the dressing room appreciate what I do for the team and I’m confident in my ability, but it’s hard not to let it get to you personally when you’re not scoring.

“I think the worst thing lately was that I wasn’t getting chances – I wouldn’t mind if I was getting chances because I know one will go my way, but I dug deep and created a chance for myself today.

“After the game, the lads have come up and congratulated me and everybody is delighted for me just to get that off my back and try to kick on.” 

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Aaron Gallagher

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