Fonte backs Southampton striker Long to fill void left by Pelle

Rob Conlon
Shane Long: Southampton striker usually fares well against Norwich City

Jose Fonte insists Southampton striker Shane Long has the quality to ensure suspended Graziano Pelle wont be missed at Manchester City.

Pelle is Saints’ top scorer this season with nine goals but will be unavailable for the trip to the Etihad on Saturday after picking up his fifth booking of the season in the 1-0 defeat to Stoke City.

And with Long likely to be tasked with leading the line, Fonte says he has faith in the strength in depth of Southampton’s squad.

“Well, we have other players in the team so we need to deal with it. We’ll still play with 11 there so we should be all right,” Fonte said.

“Obviously he [Pelle] is an important part in our team and it is going to be difficult without him but we have trust in the other players as well. We all know the philosophy that we have and we’ll try and play our game there.

“It is a good opportunity for Shane to show that he can play up there as well. He’s going to have his chance there so let’s hope he can get some goals.”

Despite his season being disrupted by injury, Long has managed to score six goals in 14 games for club and country, including the winner in Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 defeat of world champions Germany.