sport

Downing: Long has deal here

West Brom caretaker boss Keith Downing has no intention of sanctioning the sale of Shane Long during his time in charge.

With the transfer window having re-opened, speculation regarding the striker's future has resurfaced.

The Baggies were prepared to part with his services over the summer, with an offer from Premier League rivals Hull City accepted.

No deal was pushed through, though, and Long has remained at The Hawthorns.

Various clubs, including Hull, are believed to be still monitoring his situation and could be tempted to make an approach in January.

Downing has, however, pointed out that West Brom remain fully behind the Republic of Ireland international and consider him to be an important member of their squad.

He said in the Daily Star: "Shane's contracted to us, the speculation hasn't been unsettling.

"He's fully fit now, but he's an Albion player, so he plays.

"We were part of the selection to get him in here, and we have a high regard for him.

"The speculation in the summer has brought it all up. We believe in him and he's part of the plans.

"I won't be involved in any transfer activity. But when the new man arrives, I'll have an input, we'll help him."

Downing claims to remain in the dark when it comes to the length of his tenure, but appreciates that chairman Jeremy Peace must act quickly if the Baggies are to make the most of the winter window.

He added: "We'll carry on until told otherwise, there's no date on it.

"The chairman's aware of the speed this needs to be done. He's aware of the importance of January.

"The club have four or five people judging who's the best one to be selected. So we have to trust them to get the right one in."