Thursday 19 July 2018

Long relieved to get chance to make his mark

Shane Long celebrates scoring against Newcastle United
Shane Long celebrates scoring against Newcastle United
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Shane Long has admitted that he feared a wasted trip to Newcastle before he was given the nod to come off the bench and rescue a point for Southampton at St James' Park on Sunday.

Saints boss Ronald Koeman likes to rotate his team, with Long one of the players that comes in and out of his plans. That didn't change in Newcastle, although Koeman's brother and assistant, Erwin, was in charge for the day.

The return of Jay Rodriguez from injury has added further competition to the striking department, and the Tipp native had to be patient before eventually getting the chance to dispatch the header that secured a 2-2 draw.

"It's nice to have everyone firing and to be able to rotate the team a little bit. But it's hard," said Long afterwards.

"Even though I was on the bench, I was thinking there were all sorts of other options (on the bench) to come. I knew when I came on that I would have to make the most of it and luckily I got the goal."

The £12m purchase scored seven times for his club last term. He's made a promising start this time around with his Newcastle effort adding to a Europa League strike against Vitesse Arnhem. He missed the second leg of that clash with the Dutch side because of what he describes as a 'dose of the manflu'.

Long is frequently deployed as a left winger by Koeman and feels that he caught the Newcastle defence out by finding the spring to rise highest in a crowded area to nab a goal.

"I think defenders get a little bit surprised because I'm not the biggest of players," says Long, who has work to do to get back into Martin O'Neill's starting plans.

Meanwhile, Sligo Rovers have re-signed journeyman striker Anthony Elding. It's the 21st move of the 33-year-old's career and the Englishman is familiar to Bit O'Red fans after spending 2013 in their colours and signing off with an FAI Cup-winning goal against Drogheda at the Aviva Stadium.

Spells at Cork City and Derry City proved less successful, with an inglorious stint with Northern Irish side Ballinamallard sandwiched in between.

Irish Independent

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