RALPH Hasenhuttl believes Shane Long can use his contract situation as a driving force for good.

The striker’s deal with the St Mary’s side runs out next summer, meaning he would become a free agent for other clubs to sign.

Long, 32, has started the last four games but is racing against the clock to be fit for Chelsea this afternoon.

Speaking about his players’ current situation, Hasenhuttl said: “We don’t want to think about the summer too much and who’s out of contract.

“Everyone has a chance now to show up and show how important he is to the team.

“I can only speak about my experience as a player when I knew my contract was up at the end of the season I was always the best because I knew I had to give everything and show up.

“This is not really a disadvantage.”

Danny Ings recently spoke of his admiration for Long, with Hasenhuttl also saying how the Irishman has played a key part in his teammate’s recent success in front of goal.

Long is yet to score this season, although Saints’ boss believes the striker’s game is about more than just goals.

Hasenhuttl added: “We’re always happy when he’s playing and if he cannot another guy must step up to his workload which is massive.

“He’s a fantastic professional and always positive; really nasty to play against because he’s always hunting for every ball and this is something that helps our game, absolutely.”