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Jun 3, 2013

Clarke anxious over Long contract talks

Steve Clarke faces an anxious wait to discover whether he will be able to secure the long-term future of Shane Long at West Bromwich Albion.

Shane Long has not scored since January
Clarke is currently on duty with the Republic of Ireland

Head coach Clarke has endured a frustrating end to the season regarding contract negotiations, after hoping to extend the existing deals of Youssouf Mulumbu and Republic of Ireland striker Long.

Clarke urged chairman Jeremy Peace to make new contracts for Mulumbu and Long a priority before they headed off for the summer, but both players' future remain uncertain.

Mulumbu has failed to commit himself long-term, with a year left on his deal and Fiorentina are monitoring the DR Congo midfielder.

Now Long has added further uncertainty by claiming he will not be able to enter talks over extending his stay until he returns for pre-season. Long is on international duty until next week and will then get married on June 15, meaning his long-term future is still likely to be unclear in July.

He has attracted interest from Sevilla and his recent performance against England for the Republic at Wembley has alerted several other clubs.

Long has tried to play down concerns regarding his future, saying: "I fully intend to stay but we will talk, probably in pre-season, about contract situations and see what happens. I’m very happy. The new manager has come in and has really built a team that’s very competitive in the Premier League.

"There are a few lads up in the air about contracts and it will be interesting to see what happens over the summer. I have a year and an option, so probably two. I have still got two years left at West Brom and that’s what I am focusing on at the moment."

Despite the encouraging comments, Clarke is thought to be frustrated at the delay, after hoping a deal could be struck before the end of May.

Talks have been on-going since the end of last season and while Albion remain confident of keeping Long, a substantial offer from a higher profile club could damage their chances. It’s believed that should a team who finished above them in the Premier League last term show an interest, Long would have a re-think. 

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