Ronald Koeman has backed Shane Long to spearhead Southampton's attack at Manchester City in the absence of suspended top-scorer Graziano Pelle.
Boss Koeman believes Long can lead Saints' line in Saturday's Premier League trip to the Etihad Stadium, with 14-goal Pelle banned after picking up five bookings this term.
Long returned to club action after ankle trouble and helping the Republic of Ireland qualify for Euro 2016 for the 1-0 home loss to Stoke, deployed in behind lone striker Pelle.
This weekend though the 28-year-old should have his chance to stake a claim for a central role moving forward.
Koeman said, of Pelle's absence:
You'll always miss a player that regularly starts, but we can certainly cope, if we couldn't I would be doing something wrong, because we're only talking about one player in the squad.
Shane's a different player, with different qualities but also a very dangerous front player. He was a long time injured, he played 90 minutes last weekend and he will start again.
Our style will be the same, that we try to play football, to build up from the back, but of course in direct play it needs to be changed a little bit.
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It may be early days for Raheem Sterling at Man City, but it's interesting to see how the England youngster's stats compare with last season.
Ahead of his first match against his former club this evening, Sterling faces Liverpool boasting a bigger goal threat than he posed at Anfield last term.
Averaging one goal every 191 minutes for City compared with one every 435 minutes at Liverpool, the 20 year-old is flourishing in more of an attacking system under Manuel Pellegrini.
His shooting accuracy and passing figures are also better than they were last season although at Liverpool, Sterling was slightly more successful with tackles and take ons.
City host Liverpool in Saturday's late kick-off with the Reds, now managed by Jurgen Klopp following the departure of Brendan Rodgers, trailing the league leaders by nine points.
- Stats courtesy of Oulala
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