Hull City manager Steve Bruce will rekindle his interest in Shane Long in January if the West Bromwich Albion striker's long-term future at The Hawthorns has not been secured by then.
Bruce saw a club record £6 million transfer collapse at the final hour on transfer deadline day as Albion pulled out of selling the Ireland international, having given him permission to hold talks with the Tigers. Long flew to Yorkshire from Ireland only for the move to fall through.
The former Reading man is now in a difficult position with his contract set to expire next summer and his place at the Baggies under threat after the big-money arrivals of Victor Anichebe and Stephane Sessegnon.
Albion head coach Steve Clarke feels the club’s willingness to allow Long to hold talks with Hull was based on the player’s apparent reluctance to so far sign a new deal.
He has placed the onus firmly on the striker to end the uncertainty and Bruce will continue to monitor the issue in the meantime.
“I am a big admirer of the boy and saw how disappointed he was,” Bruce was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. “That’s football. You never know what will happen but if he became available, of course I would be interested.
“Obviously, we were bitterly disappointed we didn’t get Shane Long --- that would have been the icing on the cake. We thought it was really, really close.
“He left the headquarters of the Irish and was not on a plane until half six and then I picked him up at Leeds Bradford Airport at half eight and he was having a medical at nine.
“It was always West Brom’s prerogative as he is their player but Shane was as disappointed as anyone. He was left high and dry but that happens in football.
“We must have been there or thereabouts, otherwise why let him go on a plane? And we got to a level where they wanted to be and what they wanted. It is their prerogative but they changed their mind. We were that close -- or why let him on plane and have a medical?"
In the build-up to Saturday’s game at Fulham, Clarke has also clarified the position of Romelu Lukaku -- who was close to a return to the club from Chelsea on deadline day, only to opt for Everton.
“The people who advise Rom and guide his career decided that, rather than come back to a club where he had been a success, and where he left as a star, he should go to Everton as his next step,” he said. “They decided, and Rom decided, that was better for him.
“There was probably five minutes when I thought we had a chance. I spoke to him.”
Clarke has also drawn a line under Peter Odemwingie’s controversial time at the club by saying players come and go, while insisting: “Anyone wanting to ask Odemwingie questions should go to Cardiff.”