Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has spoken of his happiness regarding striker Shane Long’s recent form after he scored the decisive goal in Saints’ 1-0 win over Swansea, praising the Irishman’s hard working mentality.

Long managed to latch on to James Ward-Prowse’s excellent delivery 20 minutes from time to glance a header beyond the reach of the helpless Lukasz Fabianski in the Swansea net.

I think he deserves to start because he is working hard.

The goal took Long’s goal tally for the season to an impressive eight so far this campaign, overtaking Graziano Pelle as Southampton’s top scorer in all competitions.

He is always on the move, he is always running, he’s very dangerous – and that’s the reason why every time I start with Shane.

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images Sport

Since coming in for the Italian forward, Long has shown just why he is so highly valued within the club, showing an immense amount of desire and passion for the cause and proving to be a significant part of Southampton’s revival this season, helping them in their push for European football.

There have been many calls for the Republic of Ireland international to lead the line more permanently for the Saints, after he has clearly proved his reliability up front, offering a vital outlet for Southampton going forward in the future.

Do you think that Long is Southampton’s best striker?