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Thursday 14 December 2017

Koeman able to welcome Long back to Saints fold

MARTIN O'Neill is in line for another dose of positive news from the weekend Premier League programme as Shane Long is due to return to action with Southampton.

Long suffered broken ribs while on FA Cup duty with the Saints last month and the initial prognosis suggested that the Ireland striker would be out for up to six weeks.

That time frame would have left the Tipperary man with limited scope to regain match fitness in time for Ireland's Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Poland next month and was a concern for O'Neill who has a big call to make for the Polish tie on whether to start Long up front or reinstate Robbie Keane to the starting XI as Keane was dropped for the last qualifier, in Scotland.

But Saints boss Ronald Koeman says that Long has progressed well and will rejoin the squad for tomorrow's clash with Liverpool.

"I have positive news because Shane Long and Morgan Schneiderlin did a normal session," said Koeman.

"We have to wait for the reaction for the Sunday game but I am very positive that both players can be part of the Sunday squad."

Long aside, it could be a weekend of positive news on the injury front for O'Neill as the crocked trio of Stephen Ward, Marc Wilson and Jonathan Walters - all in line to start against Poland if fit - are expected to make comebacks for their clubs tomorrow following injury. However, Aiden McGeady is still weeks away from full fitness.

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