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Growing up in Huyton and signing for the Everton academy at just 5 years old, the potential was there for Chris Long to replicate the career and success of a certain Wayne Rooney. A regular goal scorer at youth and reserve levels for Everton, Long signed his first professional contract in 2013, at aged just 18. In December 2014, Long made his one and only Everton appearance, on as a sub in the Europa League game vs Krasnodar. Following this appearance, Long has been on several loans, and a permanent transfer to Burnley has followed, as he looked for first team games.
Whilst at Everton, Long spent time on loan at MK Dons and Brentford, scoring 5 goals in 15 appearances in both spells combined, the majority of these appearances coming as substitutes. Long then rejected Everton’s new contract offer in 2015, and joined Burnley in the championship. Again, struggling to make first team impact at the clarets, making just 10 appearances in Burnley’s promotion campaign in 2015-16, Long was sent on loan to Fleetwood and Bolton for the 2016-17 season, scoring 5 goals in 33 games in total and helping the Trotters to promotion.
One thing these loan deals have had in common is that the majority of appearances Long has made have been as substitutes, putting a 1 in 6 goal ratio of 10 goals in 60 games into context. Furthermore, none of these loans have been full-season loans, meaning Long has never really been given a chance to nail down a regular starting spot.
Alongside his club career, Long has been a regular for the youth set-up of England, playing consistently from every age group from the Under 16’s to the Under 20’s.
Now, at 22 years old, Long will be desperate to make up for what he feels is lost time on his career, and a season-long loan spell at Northampton Town looks to be a great way to do that. There was a lot of interest in Long in the summer of 2017, however when hearing about the club’s interest, Burnley boss Sean Dyche was desperate to send Long to a club he knows and loves, and was a big factor in Northampton securing his signature.
Long has started this season in fine form, and a great goal on his home debut in pre-season against Newport County announces his arrival at the club. Early signs so far this season suggest that Long will be a hit for the cobblers, as being used as a regular so far under Hasselbaink has seen him score his first two goals for the club, a well taken brace in the home against Portsmouth. This finally looks the season where Long can live up to his early career promise.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Long is a pacey, skilful striker who likes to play on the shoulder on the last defender. His close dribbling and tight control means that he can be very dangerous when on the ball. His pace also allows him to play in the wide positions, and his ability to find space sees his used in the hole behind the striker on occasions. So far this season he has been used in these three positions, however arguably his best performance came when he was used through the middle alongside Alex Revell.
His main strength in my opinion is his ability to find the net, and his goal scoring record, considering most of his appearances to date have been as substitutes, as well as his two goals against Portsmouth demonstrated that he only needs one chance to score. A great quality to possess.
The problem so far in his career has been for one reason or another his failure to nail down a starting position. However, as has been shown so far this season, when given the opportunity and given faith by his manager, Long can be a very good player. With an expert striker in Hasselbaink to guide him this season, don’t be surprised to see Long hit at least double figures for goals this season.
What They Say
Justin Edinburgh, ex-Northampton manager
“He is a quality striker and possesses real pace which frightens defenders … he has the attributes and the quality to be a big asset to us”
Phil Parkinson – Bolton Manager
“He’s a good young player and adds real pace to the team”
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