RYAN Bertrand is hoping Shane Long can kick on and help keep Saints above the relegation zone.

Long bagged just his second Premier League goal of the season against Liverpool last Friday to give Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side an early lead.

And even though Saints were unable to hold out for a victory, losing 3-1, Bertrand paid tribute to his teammate’s mental strength.

The Saints defender said: “It’s good for any of our strikers to get off the mark.

“He worked very hard on Friday and got what he deserved.

“If you look at his commitment, it’s never in question.

“He just needs to get the rub of the green sometimes and he got that against Liverpool.

“Hopefully, he can go on and keep that form going now.

“People are always going to talk but as long as you stay mentally strong and believe in your abilities then you can do your talking on the pitch.”

Saints took full advantage of their excellent start on Friday by going ahead after just nine minutes.

Bertrand’s centre was flicked on by the superb Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg into the path of Long, who made no mistakes in rifling his shot into the bottom corner.

But as the game went on Liverpool’s quality started to show.

Trent Alexander-Arnold rescued a ball which was headed out for a goal kick and whipped it into the box to find Naby Keita arriving to head it past Angus Gunn at the back post.

Bertrand was then left of his own at the back to try and halt a three-v-one situation led by Salah.

But despite his best efforts, the Egyptian curled his effort into the bottom corner. Jordan Henderson then added a third for Liverpool with four minutes remaining.

“You’ve got to defend for 90 minutes and it’s disappointing,” added Bertrand.

“The goals we conceded were avoidable ones.

“You can’t dilly-dally on the edge with the ball against these teams because you leave yourself vulnerable to the counter-attack.

“We came off it a little bit in the second half.

“We were flying in the first half - we were confident and in their faces.

“We were making them play rubbish balls and counter attacking them. We were thoroughly in the game and definitely deserved to get something out of it.”

Even though Saints have a game in hand over relegation rivals Burnley and Cardiff, Bertrand believes they can’t take their foot off the gas in their Premier League survival efforts.

He said: “It’s not quite comfortable yet. We gave a good account of ourselves and it’s important not to get complacent now.

“We need to take the first 60-70 minutes from the Liverpool game into the rest of the season.

“There are definitely games you look at over the course of the season that you think you can win and we’ve got a few of them to come at home.

“We should fancy ourselves at home.”