SAINTS are sweating on the fitness of Shane Long ahead of this weekend’s clash against a Newcastle United side that has the worst St Mary’s record of any current Premier League club.

Long scored as Saints made it four home wins out four against Newcastle when the Magpies last visited St Mary’s 18 months ago.

He has started Saints’ last three Premier League matches but is a doubt for Newcastle’s visit on Sunday with the hip injury that ruled him out of the Republic of Ireland’s dramatic win in Wales on Monday night.

Assuming Long is unavailable, Saints are likely to recall Manolo Gabbiadini, who has not played a full 90 minutes all season after coming off the bench for the fourth match in succession, in Italy’s World Cup win in Albania on Monday night.

Meanwhile, Charlie Austin is waiting for his first start under Mauricio Pellegrino.

Like Gabbiadini, Austin scored his solitary goal of this season against West Ham nearly two months ago.

At least Newcastle’s appalling recent St Mary’s record provides hope.

Newcastle are the only current Premier League side Saints have not dropped a point against at St Mary’s since their return to the top flight five years ago.

Long has played in two of them.

The 30 year-old may not have scored for 1,108 minutes but his 18 goal-haul in 98 Premier League appearances (52 starts) for Saints included two that helped relegate Newcastle two seasons ago.

Long headed a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw at St James’ Park, as a second-half substitute on the opening day of the 2015/16 campaign.

He also scored a brilliant fourth-minute goal in the 3-1 win against Newcastle in April 2016, collecting the ball 25 yards out before beating two defenders and scoring with his left foot.

Newcastle had lost their three previous matches away to Saints; 4-0, 4-0 and 2-0.

You have to go back more than 13 years for their last win at St Mary’s, when Alan Shearer was still playing for his hometown club.