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Southampton boss backs Long to lead line at Man City

Ronald Koeman has backed Shane Long to spearhead Southampton's attack at Manchester City in the absence of suspended top-scorer Graziano Pelle.

Koeman has faith in Long during Pelle's absence. Credit: PA

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.

– Southampton manager Ronald Koeman


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