Shane Long’s future still undecided

Baggies manager Steve Clarke says contract will be discussed soon after Irish striker’s stunning brace against Villa

West Bromwich Albion’s Shane Long celebrates scoring his teams opener, hist first, against  Aston Villa at The Hawthorns. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

West Bromwich Albion’s Shane Long celebrates scoring his teams opener, hist first, against Aston Villa at The Hawthorns. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Tue, Nov 26, 2013, 14:48

West Brom striker Shane Long is unsure what the future holds despite his stunning two goals against Aston Villa on Monday night.

The Republic of Ireland forward was almost offloaded to Hull City during the summer transfer window and another bid from the Tigers, and perhaps Stoke City, is expected in January, but his two stunning goals against local rivals Villa at The Hawthorns may well increase interest.

“There has been nothing settled yet and I haven’t really talked about it much,” said Long of his contract, which expires at the end of the season. “I’m just concentrating on football, training hard and trying to keep my place in the team. “There are no developments yet but there is plenty of time left on my contract and I’m sure the club will think about what’s best for them and me.

“I try to keep out of it. There are enough things to worry about on the pitch without worrying about things off it. I have always been comfortable here. The fans always get behind me in every game and stick with me through good and bad times and I’m always concentrating on my football and letting the rest take care of itself. It’s not easy staying in the starting XI here with the players we have on the bench, so that’s my main aim at the moment.”

His manager Steve Clarke, however, says the club will sit down with Long soon to discuss his future.

“He has proved that on the pitch and that is all he can do,” said Clarke. “I am sure the club will sit down in the future and sort out his contract. It is not really my department as I’ve said many times. Shane’s performance at Chelsea when he got a goal was also very good. Everyone spoke about it.

“He got another goal when away with the Republic and he showed against Aston Villa when he is on his top level he is a player to be reckoned with. His first finish especially. That skill in bringing the ball down over his shoulder is a very difficult skill. He shifted on his weaker left foot but the way he hit the shot you would not have known it was his weaker foot. It was a great finish.

“The second was also a fine finish. It was good anticipation to read the poor pass across the back. It was a good night for Shane. But unfortunately we could not get the three points.”

The Baggies appeared to be cruising towards victory early on in the Barclays Premier League clash at The Hawthorns, with Long having opened the scoring in the third minute and then doubled the hosts’ advantage with another goal in the 11th.

They had further chances — Stephane Sessegnon missing a particularly good one — to make it 3-0, but Villa fought back to claim a point. West Brom failed to react as Karim El Ahmadi converted a 67th-minute volley and nine minutes later, Baggies defender Goran Popov inadvertently headed the ball to Ashley Westwood, who fired it into the net with a fine, swerving drive.

It was disappointing for Long but, after scoring against Chelsea and then for Ireland against Latvia, it was yet another boost to the confidence of the Tipperary man.

The 26-year-old said: “When things are going against you, confidence is a big thing for a striker. I feel like I’m going into a game looking forward to the 90 minutes rather than looking over my shoulder at the bench. I’m enjoying my football at the moment — we’re playing some good football at times and hopefully I can keep on the streak I’m on.”

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