Hughes reassures Long over Southampton role
Mark Hughes has reassured Southampton striker Shane Long and captain Steven Davis and that they remain in his long-term plans.
Long and Davis were left out of Southampton’ 18-man squad for the goalless draw with Burnley on the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
Manager Hughes, who had a fully-fit squad against the Clarets, insists the experienced duo will continue to play prominent roles at St Mary’s.
“I’ve explained to the guys that didn’t play that it’s not a reflection on me thinking I don’t need them or they’re not in my plans because that’s not the case,” said Hughes ahead of the trip to Everton.
“I think players, unfortunately – and it happened in my day – when they are not in the first 11 for the first game of the season all of a sudden they get a little bit anxious and think maybe my future lies elsewhere and agents are telling them they’ve got to move.
“And that’s not the case with Shane and the likes of Steven Davis.
“They’re very much part of what we’re going to do this year and I just said to them: ‘At the end of the year, you’ll look back on the season and you’ll find that you’ve played many, many games so bear with me’.”
Republic of Ireland international Long appears to have slipped down the pecking order following the deadline-day signing of striker Danny Ings, while the summer arrival of Stuart Armstrong has increased the midfield competition for Davis.
One player Hughes is willing to let go is third-choice goalkeeper Fraser Forster.
The out-of-favour England international and former Celtic man, who is competing with Alex McCarthy and Angus Gunn for a starting place, has rejected a number of loan deals but may be open to a move abroad.