Saturday 16 December 2017

Shane Long blow gives O'Neill headache for crucial Austria clash

Striker limps off in Inter clash as Sunderland eye double swoop for Saints hitman and Brady

Long is escorted from the pitch with a hamstring injury last night. Photo: Reuters
Long is escorted from the pitch with a hamstring injury last night. Photo: Reuters

Daniel McDonnell and Luke Edwards

Shane Long is a major doubt for Ireland's World Cup qualifier in Austria next month after limping off in Southampton's Europa League tie with Inter Milan last night due to a hamstring problem.

The Irish attacker pulled up injured just after half-time at the San Siro and immediately signalled to the bench that he would have to be replaced.

Long was making his first outing since he was taken off in the second half of Ireland's victory in Moldova on October 9. A hamstring issue was the reason he was replaced on that occasion.

This presents a major headache for Martin O'Neill who is thin on options in the striking department.

Sunderland are weighing up a bid for Long and his Ireland team-mate Robbie Brady in the January transfer window as David Moyes looks to add players with a proven track record in English football.

Long has not scored for Southampton this season, although it remains to be seen if he is willing to leave the south coast.

Brady dropped out of the Premier League when he was relegated with Norwich City back in May, but excelled for Ireland at the European Championships in France.

Brady would be a tremendous addition to the Sunderland squad as he can play in any position on the left flank, as well as in the number 10 role that he has recently been promoted to with his national side.

The 24-year-old, who began his career at Manchester United, before joining Hull City, would also add a goal threat from set-pieces, both with his shooting and crossing ability.

Brady was linked with a £12m move to Leicester City after the Euros, but eventually remained with Norwich to try and help them return to the top flight at the first attempt.

The Canaries are second in the Championship table, but their form has faltered in recent weeks and Brady is keen to get back into the Premier League at the earliest opportunity.

Irish Independent

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