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Shane Long is learning at last claims Dutch master Koeman

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Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman

PA

Ronald Koeman

RONALD Koeman believes that Shane Long is benefiting from some Dutch lessons at Southampton and is on board with how the Saints boss wants him to play.

It's not been an easy season for Long since his summer move from Hull, as he had to wait until last Saturday for his first Premier League goal - he scored twice - and has started less than half of their league games.

Long's had his troubles at international level too as he was an unused sub in the last two qualifiers and hasn't started a game for Ireland since last May. Long has had to be patient on both levels this season but former Holland international Koeman, while pleased to see Long's two-goal contribution in Saturday's win over Leicester, explains that it's taken Long time to understand what he wants.

From his early days with Cork City, Long has almost always played under a British or Irish manager, with Pepe Mel (West Brom) and Giovanni Trapattoni the only continental influences on the player, until he hooked up with Koeman.

"He was playing at Hull and he was playing in the centre forward position and that's different to how he has to play in our team," says Koeman.

"I spoke to Shane about that and we do a lot of position games and position training sessions and he was not used to doing that.

"It's not about running in football. OK, you need to run behind the ball and need to be physical, but still I am a coach who likes to have and dominate the ball and that's all about good position. The more you run, the less you see.

DIFFICULT

"That was difficult for Shane in the beginning but little by little he is improving and we are very happy to have Shane in our squad," added Koeman.

"Shane is doing very well and he had some in the beginning adaptation problems about how we play and train because it was much different to what he had in the past.

A first-choice striker for most of his time at West Brom and Hull, Long has been forced to accept that the Italian discovery Graziano Pelle starts as a lone front man for the Saints.

"I spoke to Shane before we signed Shane and the first option is to play as the nine position, the target man, and that is Graziano Pelle," Koeman explained.

"You can play behind him, what we did against Stoke for the Capital One Cup, and you can play from the left and the right wing position. I know he's not really a wing player but we liked how he scored the first goal and he is understanding this much better than in the beginning and he made the difference," added Koeman.

Long reported to Dublin for international duty last night, hoping to force his way into the plans for Friday's test in Glasgow.


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