Shane long scaled

Long to stay a Saint

Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long has signed a new two-year contract extension with Southampton. Long joined the Saints from Hull in 2014 and was coming to the end of his existing contract; he will now remain with the south coast club until the end of the 2021-22 season. The 33-year-old says he is confident there are good times ahead for the club. He said: “I love the way the club is run, I love what the club stands for and I am excited about what the club will do over the next couple of years. I can see the club pushing up the league, back to where we all want to be, and I want to be part of that. I am just delighted to get it done.” Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, who recently agreed a four-year extension with Southampton, is a fan of Long’s even though the Tipperary native doesn’t score many goals. The Austrian-born manager said: ‘‘Shane is an outstanding professional. He has been an important player for me and I know also for the managers before me. He has scored some big goals for us and helped to create many more for his teammates too. I think that is one of his top qualities.’’

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Meanwhile there is speculation that AC Milan are interested in Burnley’s Irish international Jeff Hendrick. The midfielder is out of contract at Turf Moor this summer and Milan are reported to be keen in the Dubliner, if he decides not to stay with the English EPL club. The 28-year-old has won 54 caps Irish caps. The Italians are nothing like the great force they were in 1980s and '90s and endured the ignominy of being banned from this season’s Europa League for breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play rules. Consequently they are always keen to pick up players on free transfers.

-- Sean Creedon

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