Long hints at new contract

Shane Long has given West Bromwich Albion a glimmer of hope that he may be prepared to stay at the Hawthorns and sign a new contract –despite not having any direct negotiations with the club since last season.

Long is in a rich vein of form at the Hawthorns and his two goals against Aston Villa on Monday night led to head coach Steve Clarke fielding more questions over the long term future of the Republic of Ireland international.

Clarke expressed his hopes that a positive conclusion could be reached with the striker Albion almost sold to Hull City for £5m on the final day of the summer transfer window and Albion fans are also keen for Long to be retained beyond the end of the season, when his contract expires.

Long has had to deal with the fact that he was surplus to requirements in August and he played no part in instigating the proposed move to the KC Stadium. There are other Premier League clubs interested in his services, including Stoke City and several European clubs are monitoring the situation.

He is now prepared to wait for Albion to make the next move in negotiations and can relax in the knowledge that he is in a stronger position than he was less than four months ago, saying: “There are no developments yet, but there is plenty of time left on my contract.

“I am sure the club will think about what’s best for the club and me and we’ll see what happens. There has been nothing yet and I haven’t really talked about it. I have told my agent not to get in touch with me unless there is something concrete. I let him do his job and he lets me concentrate on my football.”

Asked if he wants to remain at the club he joined from Reading, Long added: “It’s something I’d look at, definitely. I just love playing football so I’ll take every week as it comes and other things will take care of themselves.”

Long has scored four times in his last four games and has regained his starting place in the side, despite the competition from Matej Vydra, Stephane Sessegnon, Nicolas Anelka and Victor Anichebe.

And he has been grateful for the backing of the supporters and the manager, after his difficult time on transfer deadline day in

August, when he left the Republic of Ireland training camp to hold talks with Hull manager Steve Bruce, only for the deal to be scrapped at the 11th hour.

“I was always comfortable here. The fans always make me comfortable here. They get behind me in every game and stick with me through good and bad times and I’m always concentrating on my football and letting the rest take care of itself,” said Long.

“It’s not easy staying in the starting XI here with the players we have on the bench, so that’s my main aim at the moment. The manager has always been good to me. He reassured me that I was always a big part of his plans and I get on really well with the lads here as well.

“I am settled in Birmingham as well so I’m enjoying my time at West Brom and hopefully the rest will take care of itself. Confidence goes a long way when you’re a striker and I’m enjoying my football at the moment.”