SHANE Long looks to be in line for a return to the Republic of Ireland squad.

Long missed the previous squad due to a lack of minutes on the pitch for Saints.

But after bagging a couple of goals and proving to be a key partner for Danny Ings, Ireland boss Mick

McCarthy admitted his delight at the 33-year-old's current form.

McCarthy was at Saints' game against Burnley at the weekend and liked what he saw.

He said: “Shane Long looked fit against Burnley, he’s got that athleticism back and the sharpness that comes with playing regular first team football.

"He was competitive throughout the game and he’s back where we need him to be to push for a place on the plane to Slovakia, which is good news."

As well as a potential place in the Republic of Ireland's squad for next month's internationals, Long is also set to receive a new deal to keep him at St Mary's.

His current contract expires at the end of the season, although it's understood there's going to be a new offer on the table.

However, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl doesn't want anything signed until his side have 36 points.

They are currently five short of that target but have winnable games against Aston Villa and West Ham coming up.

Saints' boss is a fan of how Long willingly sacrifices himself to allow Danny Ings a bit more freedom to be in the right place at the right time to convert any opportunities that come his way.