SHANE Long is in line to receive a new Saints contract.

His current deal runs out in the summer, but it’s expected the striker will sign an extension before the season is out.

Long, 33, has an admirer in Ralph Hasenhuttl and has played a key role in the club’s turnaround in form since the beginning of December.

The Republic of Ireland international recently netted in the defeat to Wolves and then the FA Cup loss away to Tottenham Hotspur.

Although Long doesn’t score as often as he’d like, he’s viewed as the player who has given Danny Ings the freedom to provide the goods.

For the length of time he’s on the pitch, the striker will harangue defenders and will chase after every loose ball.

This allows Ings the time to position himself in the right place at the right time to convert an opportunity should a chance come his way.

Long joined Saints from Hull back in 2014 and signed his most recent contract extension in 2016.

But with that due to expire in less than six months, the St Mary’s side will want to sort out a new deal sooner rather than later.

The striker is settled on the south coast with his family and would favour extending his spell, especially after cementing his spot in the starting XI.

Hasenhuttl is also nearing the end of his Saints contract, with the Austrian having just over 12 months left.

There is a feeling behind the scenes that this isn’t a cause for concern.

The Saints boss has made it clear that he’s happy at St Mary’s and will start talking about an extension once he feels his side are safe from relegation.

Saints’ hierarchy are also relaxed about this view and see it as the sensible option.

Hasenhuttl also wants to repay the club for the faith they put in him after his team lost 9-0 to Leicester last year.

He initially joined on a two-and-a-half-year deal in December 2018 when he replaced the sacked Mark Hughes.

His remit was to ensure Saints maintained their Premier League survival after Hughes left the club in a precarious position.