Hughes re­as­sures Long over Southamp­ton role

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER -

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’.”

Peck­ing or­der

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.

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