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Long in frame for new Saints contract after solid run of performances

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Shane Long could return for Ireland's Euro 2020 playoff clash in Slovakia. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Shane Long could return for Ireland's Euro 2020 playoff clash in Slovakia. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

REUTERS

Shane Long could return for Ireland's Euro 2020 playoff clash in Slovakia. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Shane Long is in discussions about a new contract with Southampton after hitting a timely run of form for Ralph Hasenhuttl.

The Tipperary man's £60,000-a-week contract expires at the end of the season and he had admitted last year that a serious improvement in his performances was necessary to warrant talks about an extension.

Long has started six out of Southampton's last seven games and won praise from his manager for his contribution.

Local reports in Southampton say this turnaround has resulted in contract chatter, with a one-year or two-year deal for the 33-year-old the options on the table.

Meanwhile, veteran League of Ireland player Raffaele Cretaro has delayed any thoughts of retirement and signed for another year with Finn Harps.

Sligo Rovers legend Cretaro helped Harps escape the drop last term and that was expected to bring down the curtain on his career. However, the 38-year-old never closed the door on a return and kept in touch with Harps boss Ollie Horgan.

"At the end of the season I wasn't sure whether to go or not," Cretaro explained.

"I kept in contact with Ollie over the break and he's a great man for persuading you and giving you the confidence in your ability to go out and perform. I'm delighted to be back for another year."

Return

Veteran goalkeeper Brian Murphy is close to a return home to sign for his hometown club of Waterford FC, although Friday's league opener against St Patrick's Athletic in Inchicore is likely to come too soon.

The 36-year-old was most recently with Cardiff City after stints with Ipswich, QPR and Portsmouth. Murphy, a former Man City trainee, starred in the League of Ireland with Bohemians in a three-year stay from 2007 to 2009 and was called into an Ireland squad before moving back overseas.

He nearly joined Dundalk in 2016 but Cardiff made a late move for his services. The player is keen to come back to Ireland and settle as his wife is expecting a child in the summer.

Waterford are looking at loan options in England with a view to giving their squad further depth.

Derry City have delved into that market again by recruiting front man Adam Liddle from Reading for six months.

He was on trial with the Candystripes last month and will go in their squad for the trip to face champions Dundalk on Friday.

"We need quality throughout the squad and he has been banging in goals for the Reading U-23s," said City boss Declan Devine.

Irish Independent