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'Shane Long is complete as a striker' - Ronald Koeman heaps praise on Irish attacker

The 29-year-old has scored 13 goals for Southampton this term and has hit a rich vein of form with the Euros just around the corner.

Image: Paul Harding/PA Wire/Press Association Images

WITH THREE GOALS in his last four league games, Shane Long has hit a purple patch for Southampton and it’s come at the best possible time from an Irish perspective.

With Euro 2016 rapidly approaching on the horizon, the 29-year-old is arguably in the best form of his career and his consistent performances have not gone unnoticed.

His club manager, Ronald Koeman, spoke in glowing terms about the Tipperary native at his Friday press conference, as the Saints prepare for Sunday’s trip to White Hart Lane.

“I remember when Shane came. I think in all aspects he has learnt a lot. We did a lot with Shane in a lot of aspects of and I think he is more complete as a player, as a striker.

His pace, his timing, his movements are full of confidence. It is a big example that you can still learn when you are 26, 27, 28. You can learn every day. It is a big example of how you can develop with the help of coaches and that is nice to see.”

Long joined from Hull in the summer of 2014 but struggled for consistency, failing to score in his first 9 league appearances.

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Soccer - Capital One Cup - Fourth Round - Stoke City v Southampton - Britannia Stadium Source: Mike Egerton/PA Archive/Press Association Images

But, he netted on the first day of this term while his leading role for the Republic of Ireland and the high-profile goals he scored while on international duty has ensured a confident campaign from the former Reading and West Brom man.

“He was always really excited to come to Southampton and I remember talking to Shane about training sessions, ours are a little bit different to the usual English striker”, Koeman continued.

“He is really complete as a striker, in the box he is clever, he has a really good header, he makes it so difficult for the defenders because he is always on the move.”

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Eoin O'Callaghan

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