Saturday 21 September 2019

Long urged to benefit from Austin injury blow

Southampton striker Shane Long
Southampton striker Shane Long
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Southampton manager Claude Puel has urged Shane Long to seize the opportunity created by Charlie Austin's injury woe.

Long has started just three games for Southampton this season and has failed to score for his employers since May after a campaign where he's been forced to play second fiddle to Austin with an October injury hampering his progress.

But Austin is facing up to four months out with a shoulder injury and, while it might force Puel into the transfer market in January, he has urged Long and Jay Rodriguez to rise to the challenge.

"It is important to look forward and to give possibilities to other players, like Shane or Jay," said Puel ahead of tonight's Premier League encounter with Stoke.

"It is important that they can take the responsibility, it is a good opportunity for other players.

"I think it is important for the moment to stay with a good concentration. After we will see what will come in January."

Meanwhile, Rafa Benitez says that he was a long term admirer of Ciaran Clark before completing his signature from Aston Villa for Newcastle's promotion push.

"I liked him when he was at Aston Villa. I've had confirmation of what I was expecting now. He is a very good professional, he works hard and he is keen to learn.

"There are a lot of positives when you talk about him."

Benitez has also welcomed Rob Elliot's recovery from long-term injury but says the goalkeeper needs more reserves games before he can fight for a spot.

Elliot lined out against Aston Villa's second string earlier this week.

"He's doing well," said Benitez. "It was a good game for him, he conceded two goals but he wasn't guilty. We need to find more games for him."

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