Daddy Long swapping 'madhouse' for Prague
Published 24/11/2016 | 02:30
Shane Long hopes to inspire Southampton's bid to reach the Europa League knockout stages after leaving his newborn son for tonight's visit to Sparta Prague.
Should they win at the Generali Arena and Hapoel Be'er Sheva not defeat Inter Milan, the Saints' progress from Group K will be secured, even with one remaining fixture at home to the Israelis in December.
Long's preparations have included his nine-day-old son Jax Anthony coming home for the first time - he already has two daughters - but he explained how becoming a father again had strengthened his professionalism and gave him the perspective required to succeed.
Asked if it had been difficult to leave his son behind, the 29-year-old said: "It has been tough. We had him last Monday. He is now nine days old. We didn't get him home until Sunday, so I've only had two or three days with him. It is amazing. It is a madhouse now with three kids under six but I'm loving every minute.
"My wife (Kayleah) knows I have to get up and train so I do the morning feed when I wake up but she looks after him in the night. The first (morning feed) I was all over the place but by now I like to consider myself an expert. I'm up anyway, I get up early and I'm up with the girls (Teigan and Erin), so it is nice to have another face to look after.
"I had my first at 23, and it does settle you down a bit."
Long is expected to start for Southampton for the first time since suffering an injury in last month's 1-0 defeat at Inter Milan. Their captain Jose Fonte and Dusan Tadic have not travelled to Prague because of respective foot and nose injuries, while £16m record signing Sofiane Boufal faces a late fitness test having been ill earlier this week.