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It's child's play for Southampton striker Shane Long

By Declan Warrington

Shane Long hopes to inspire Southampton's bid to reach the Europa League knockout stages after leaving his newborn son for tonight's visit to Sparta Prague.

Should they win at the Generali Arena and Hapoel Be'er Sheva not defeat Inter Milan, the Saints' progress from Group K will be secured, even with one remaining fixture at home to the Israelis in December.

Long's preparations for tonight have included his nine-day old son Jax Anthony coming home for the first time - the forward already has two daughters - but he explained how becoming a father again had strengthened his professionalism and gave him the perspective required to succeed.

Asked if it had been difficult to leave his son behind, the 29-year-old said: "It has been tough. We had him last Monday. He is now nine days old. We didn't get him home until Sunday, so I've only had two or three days with him.

"It is amazing. It is a madhouse now with three kids under six but I'm loving every minute.

"My wife (Kayleah) knows I have to get up and train so I do the morning feed when I wake up but she looks after him in the night.

"The first (morning feed) I was all over the place but by now I like to consider myself an expert. I'm up anyway, I get up early and I'm up with the girls (Teigan and Erin), so it is nice to have another face to look after."

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