Should Southampton plunge through the relegation trapdoor next month, there is a glooming inevitability that Shane Long will once again find himself touted for a Tyneside switch – should the Magpies finally bite?

Despite having just turned 31 years old, Long is a seasoned top-flight veteran with this being his 11th season in the Premier League. It’s an impressive stay of execution for a goalscorer who has hit double digits just once in that time.

The Republic of Ireland international has often found himself linked with a move to Newcastle in the past, but Alan Pardew said it best in 2014 when he intimated that the club needed to be aiming higher than a player of his meagre calibre.

Long was most recently linked with a switch in January – at the time, he had scored once since February 2017. His goal at Arsenal last weekend was his first of the season, and fourth in almost two seasons.

It doesn’t take a tactical genius to work out this is a pitiful return for a centre-forward, and if Southampton are to be sentenced to the second tier, the top-flight struggles of Long should finally be served the lethal injection rather than forced onto another set of Premier League supporters.

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