Ralph Hasenhuttl has refused to give an update on contract negotiations with Republic of Ireland forward Shane Long.
His current contract is set to expire in the summer, but the Daily Echo have reported that he’s expected to sign an extension before the end of the season.
“I don’t know if I have to give an update because the message was always the same. When we have 36 points then the club will start speaking with the players,” Hasenhuttl said.
He added: “I think it was a good message to get the focus on our game and our performance.”
Hasenhuttl has masterminded a remarkable turnaround at Southampton to propel them from the depths of the relegation zone to within just 6 points of the top 6.
However, Long has scored just one goal in 15 league appearances this season. His lack of final product has divided opinions at St Mary’s but Hasenhuttl insists he’s still an important member of the squad, saying:
“He’s something of a player that is a symbol of our philosophy. He’s a hard working guy who is always giving everything on the pitch for the team.
“This is the reason why, although he’s not the top scorer for the team, he’s so important and the supporters love him.”
Last season, the 33-year-old scored the fastest goal in Premier League history against Watford, scoring after just 7.69 seconds.
Long joined Southampton from Hull City in August 2014 and has netted 34 goals in 200 appearances for the club.