Shane Long determined to lead the line for Saints

Shane Long was the lone striker for Southampton's league victory over Crystal Palace last weekend and now the Irishman is hoping to solidify his place in the starting eleven.

Shane Long determined to lead the line for Saints
(Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Shane Long, one of the longest serving Southampton players amongst Mauricio Pellegrino's ranks, is eager to impress the new boss following his first Saints start of the campaign at Selhurst Park on Saturday, which ended with the visitors travelling back to Hampshire having accumulated all three points. 

The 30 year-old's patience has been tested with January addition Manolo Gabbiadini and steady forward Charlie Austin ahead of him in the manager's striking options. 

Long did, however, play a pivotal role in the Saints' triumph at the weekend and the result took them back into a relieving top-half position; ninth to the precise on a tally of eight points from a potential fifteen. 

''Hopefully I can get a run of games now''

Besides the ninety minutes of football Shane Long racked up against Crystal Palace, his primary use was as an influential substitute. A measly 57 minutes of action in five outings across all competitions is somewhat of a disappointment to the Republic of Ireland international, but is hopeful his chance to sign is now. 

''I felt like I did well [against Palace], but the more games I’ll play the more confident I’ll be and the goals will come'', Long mentioned in relation to getting more minutes in the near future. 

Southampton arguably face the biggest test of their season this coming weekend as José Mourinho's fluid and scaremongering Manchester United side visit St. Mary's

Charlie Austin was unable to find a place in the matchday squad at Selhurst Park but Manolo Gabbiadini did find himself a spot on the bench prior to coming on in the drifting moments of the match. 

With an abundance of competition in the attacking department for Mauricio Pellegrino, Long is eager to be given the nod ahead of his team-mates. 

''He [Pellegrino] likes to play one striker so someone will be frustrated, but I’ve just kept my head down'', going on to say, ''I've trained hard and tried to prove my point, I'm just waiting for my chance to come''. 

Can Shane Long be the man to overcome Manchester United?

It will certainly be an enduring task for Southampton to even stretch a point after the full-time whistle and Mauricio Pellegrino will get his first taste of just how difficult it'll be to compete with some of the division's best and in-form team. 

Shane Long's inexcusable experience at this level will be exceptionably vital for the weekend's encounter against Manchester United. Whilst he's still yet to get off the mark this term, the frightful forward has netted on 104 occasions in the Premier League, as well as feature in no less than 242 top-flight matches. 

The question remains whether the boss will prefer pace and width, in which he should pick Long, or direct and down the middle style of play, for there the Argentinian could choose Gabbiadini.

Nevertheless, the qualities Shane Long possesses were showcased in the win over Roy Hodgson's Crystal Palace and it's precisely this time of the year where the manager needs to allow the striker to flourish.