Former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino has labelled Shane Long as “the biggest enigma in football”.

Long netted just his second Premier League goal of the season last Friday during the 3-1 defeat to Liverpool.

Writing for The Times, Cascarino said: “That was only Shane Long’s fourth goal in his past 69 appearances for Southampton, which is quite astonishing when you think what a talented striker he is.

“He is the biggest enigma in football.”

Like Long, Cascarino also represented the Republic of Ireland during his playing career, scoring 19 goals from 88 appearances.

The Saints striker has played 88 times for his national side, finding the back of the net on 17 occasions.

And Cascarino, who is a columnist for The Times, believes Long has more ability than Ireland great Robbie Keane ever did.

Keane played for Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Leeds United during a distinguished career that saw him score 68 goals on the international stage.

Cascarino added: “As a former Ireland forward, I have watched his career closely and he certainly has far more ability than Robbie Keane, Ireland’s record goalscorer — he is much quicker, better technically and is superior in the air, but he could never finish.

“He has played in the Premier League for nearly a decade and has moved between clubs for big transfer fees so it’s hard to understand how his goal tally is so poor.”