RALPH Hasenhuttl has insisted 35-year-old Shane Long can “keep on going in the summer”, despite his Saints contract coming to an end.

He could yet sign renewed terms, but the Irishman looks set to exit St Mary’s after eight years with the club following the conclusion of his deal next month.

The veteran forward has played 344 Premier League matches across his career, scoring 56 goals – although only one of those has come in the last two seasons.

Long netted twice in 19 appearances across all competitions this campaign – in the FA Cup at Swansea City and versus Everton in the league.

And Hasenhuttl thinks the forward can continue playing into next season, where he will turn 36.

“From the physical side it is definitely possible for him to keep on going in the summer, definitely,” the Austrian told the Daily Echo.

“He is very robust and when you are so quick, yeah you lose a little bit when you get older, but still quick enough for playing as a striker. It is no coincidence that he has played so many games in the Premier League.”

Hasenhuttl, who retired from his role as a striker when he was almost 37, continued: “We speak about a different level when I stopped my game – not on this level, I never played on this level, so I do not want to compare him to me.

“But I know how it feels when you come to 35, 36 or 37 as a player. I must say that I absolutely love this game to play, and that is the reason why I tried to play for as long as possible.

“I think he does the same, he loves this game, he loves to compete, he loves to come here and train every day. It is something extraordinarily beautiful.

“He still wants to learn, wants to get better and still wants to improve his game. This is the most beautiful job - better than being a manager!”

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