DANNY Ings and Shane Long were praised by Ralph Hasenhuttl for the energy they showed in leading Saints from the front against Norwich City.

Ings was again outstanding as he took his goals tally to nine in ten games in all competitions.

“It’s the result of a guy working his ass off and being absolutely positive all the time,” continued Hasenhuttl. “You can see how much he invests to win balls and work for the team. He’s on a fantastic run.”

Ings is the first Saints player to score in four consecutive appearances since Jay Rodriguez in 2014.

His strike partnership with Long was restored after 57 minutes against Watford, with the latter’s introduction helping to inspire Saturday’s 2-1 win.

That persuaded Hasenhuttl to hand Long only his second start of the season and his first for two months against Norwich. The 32 year-old responded with another performance full of energy as Saints’ high press helped secure three more vital points.

Hasenhuttl said: “We found good answers in the last few games and this is more important than the win.

“Shane Long was important for our game, he has something that gives you a chance to immediately get behind the last line.

“He’s always hunting for every ball in behind and this is absolutely necessary against every opponent. As long as he has power he was very important for our game.

“This was exactly what I expected from him, he showed he can play from the beginning and be a very important player for us.”

Given the improved recent performances, Hasenhuttl is hoping not to have to make too many changes at St James’s Park on Sunday, despite the energy expended.

“It’s a question we must answer on Saturday when we see how the players are,” he said.

“But we’ve found our shape and are creating optimism and good habits. So we don’t really want to change even if we know three games in a row is not so easy in one week. We’ve got fit players and I think they can do it.”

Reflecting on the win against Norwich, Hasenhuttl said: “It’s a long time since we last had back-to-back win.

“After the last international break we have worked on our shape and behaviour and the players showed a fantastic first 60-70 minutes. We had a chance for a third goal that Ingsy missed at the far post. Then it became 2-1 and the opponent had a lift and our energy was going down.

“When you don’t put high pressure on a team you defend deeper. [Before that] we had high ball, created a lot of chances after 2-0 and the set pieces were fantastic. The second goal was what we trained for, the game plan worked.”