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Long praises Lukaku attitude

Shane Long believes Romelu Lukaku deserves to take some of the credit for his impressive haul of goals - despite the pair having started just one game together at West Bromwich Albion.

• Blog: Bold approach pays off

Republic of Ireland international Long has made his best start ever to a season in the top flight with seven goals to his credit in all competitions and has been one of the main reasons for Albion's climb to third in the Premier League table.

He has outshone Chelsea loanee Lukaku and has been head coach Steve Clarke's preferred striker for most of the season, but Long has paid tribute to the part the 19-year-old Belgian international plays behind the scenes.

"He keeps me on my toes. I know I have to perform at my best every week to make sure that I keep my place in the team. The competition is excellent and we need that," said Long.

"He's only 19 but his attitude to the game is very good and he's a gifted footballer. He's champing at the bit to get in and start every game and I'm trying my best to keep him out."

Between them Long and Lukaku have scored 11 goals so far, with both of them on the scoresheet against Sunderland last weekend, but Clarke's preference of playing with a solitary striker means Lukaku has spent much of the time on the substitutes bench.

Both thrive on the 4-2-3-1 system and Long knows they may be forced to share for the remainder of the season, saying: "We're playing well with the formation we're using at the moment. We've got midfielders in abundance and they are flying in every game they play.

"The manager knows what system will win games. He's not afraid to change it if necessary, like he did when we played two up front against Wigan and we won that game, but at the same time he's not afraid to share the load as well."

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