Shane Long’s dream month has been recognised by the Premier League, with the Southampton striker among the nominees for the April Player of the Month award.
It has been a whirlwind four weeks for the Irishman, who kicked off the month with an early opener against Liverpool at St Mary’s.
The goal was the 50th of his Premier League career, as Saints’ number seven became only the fourth Irishman to achieve the feat, following in the footsteps of Robbie Keane, Niall Quinn and Damien Duff.
Long scored again the following week, this time as a substitute, as Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side took a major step towards survival with a third win in four games, defeating Wolves 3-1 at St Mary’s.
Ten days later, he was making global headlines with a landmark strike – the fastest ever scored since the Premier League was formed, breaking the previous record that had stood for 19 years.
Long was on target at Watford after just 7.69 seconds, as he charged down Craig Cathcart’s clearance straight from kick-off and calmly chipped the ball over former West Brom teammate Ben Foster.
On Saturday, he rounded off a month to remember with another opening goal in Saints’ thrilling 3-3 draw with AFC Bournemouth – the result that clinched another season of top-flight football for the club.
With four goals in five April appearances, Long is one of eight players nominated for the EA Sports award. He follows in the footsteps of March nominee James Ward-Prowse, who has twice been among the contenders this season.