Saturday 20 January 2018

Revealed - Southampton manager clears up why he substituted an angry Shane Long

Ireland striker Shane Long was furious as he was substituted after just 22 minutes on the pitch in Southampton's game against Man City
Ireland striker Shane Long was furious as he was substituted after just 22 minutes on the pitch in Southampton's game against Man City
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Shane Long was seething as he was substituted just 22 minutes after being introduced from the bench in Southampton's game against Manchester City on Saturday - and now his manager Claude Puel has cleared up the mystery around his decision.

With Southampton seeking a route back into a game that was being dominated by Pep Guardiola's City, Puel handed Ireland striker Long his chance to make an impact as he replaced lead striker Manolo Gabbiadini for the final half an hour of the game.

Puel's move to throw Long into the fray ahead of his fellow substitute Jay Rodriguez appeared to be a major vote of confidence for the striker who has struggled to make his mark at Southampton this season.

Yet with eight minutes of the game still to play, Long was more than a little bemused when his number was hoisted and he was duly replaced with Rodriguez after 82 minutes.

Long let the Southampton bench know he was not happy with their decision, as he exchanged what appeared to be less than jovial comments with Puel and his assistant Eric Black.

Yet the Southampton boss has now confirmed that a slightly embarrassing misunderstanding saw Long pulled off in what appeared to be humiliating fashion, as Puel explained after the game.

"It seems it was a misunderstanding," admitted a red-faced Puel after his side's comprehensive 3-0 defeat.

"We will see in the coming days what happened, but he touched him hamstring and it was a misunderstanding between him and the staff. It is not a bad thing. It is not important."

Long was on the receiving end of a heavy challenge from Man City defender Nicolas Otamendi moments before he was substituted, with the Saints bench clearly under the impression that he had picked up an injury in that incident and needed to be withdrawn.

The good news for Ireland and Southampton is that Long appears to be the victim of misinformation rather than a worrying injury and he should be available for the rest of this Premier League season and Ireland's vital World Cup qualifier against Austria in June.

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