Shane Long is the perfect team player whose selfless running has been a key ingredient in Saints' recent improvement.

That is the view of Ralph Hasenhuttl, who believes the Irishman is back to his best.

After helping to inspire the comeback against Watford as a second-half substitute, Long was integral to the win against Norwich from the first whistle.

“Shane made many high-speed runs in this game," said Hasenhuttl.

“This is really not easy to defend because when you are forced to go deep and have someone hunting for every ball.

“He also had a good header for the second goal – he was unbelievably high in the air.

“He has a fantastic mentality and was working hard for as long as he could.

“This was the best Shane Long for me.”

Long has been restricted to 350 minutes of game time this season, including two starts, and is yet to score. But Hasenhuttl needs no reminding of his four goals in five games back in April.

“Last season he scored a lot, he had the quickest goal in Premier League history, so we can never forget this goal.

“He scored more important ones for us. I think he has shown he can score for us and he scores in the sessions.

“He may not be the most clinical, maybe because he is working a lot and gets the chance when he is not 100 per cent fresh or he might be struggling with power and energy in that moment.

“When you do so much for the team it is more important than scoring sometimes.”

Long earned Saints their last point at St James' Park in August 2015 when, as a substitute, he headed in a Dusan Tadic cross to secure a 2-2 draw.

Given his recent performances, a goal today would be much deserved as Saints seek three successive Premier League wins for the first time since Ronald Koeman left.

Hasenhuttl added: “He is the perfect example of how quick things can change and how quickly it can happen that you are back in the first XI.

“You have to grab the chance with both hands and this is what I always tell my players when they are not in the squad or not in the 18.

“The moment will come, and they have to be there to grab the chance with both hands and he is always working hard and is always positive.

“From his mentality and his character, he is a fantastic professional.”