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Ireland striker Shane Long still sidelined for Southampton

SoccerBy Kevin Palmer
Long scored Ireland's famous winner against Germany last month
Long scored Ireland's famous winner against Germany last month

Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long has not recovered in time to make his return to first team action for Southampton at Sunderland this weekend.

Long has not played since he was carried off in Ireland’s final Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland last month, with Saints boss Ronald Koeman’s previously expressing a hope that he would make a comeback last weekend.

When that initial target was not achieved, Koeman stated his belief that Long could be part of his plans for the trip to the Stadium of Light, but he has confirmed that he is not yet ready to take centre-stage in the Premier League.

“Shane Long is close to coming back,” stated Koeman, who confirmed that Long has returned to full training with the Saints first team squad in recent days. 

“He did some training with the team, but he is not 100 per-cent and he needs to be 100 per-cent. That means he is out for the weekend.”

Long’s progress suggests he still has a chance to be available for the first leg of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off against Bosnia & Herzegovina on Friday November 13th.

There was also positive news for Republic of Ireland boss Martin O’Neill over the fitness of his defender John O’Shea, who is set to return to action for Sunderland against Southampton on Saturday.

O’Shea limped out of the North East derby against Newcastle last month with a hamstring problem, but Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed that his 34-year-old centre-back is available for selection once again this weekend.

O’Shea will miss the first leg of Ireland’s play-off due to suspension, but he could have a key role to play in the second match in Dublin.