A TEAM of Sam Longs is exactly what Oxford United need right now.

By that of course, I don’t mean 11 players with Long’s defensive abilities, but 11 players with his personality and characteristics.

The Bicester-born hometown hero has been one of United’s standout players in recent weeks.

While the team has toiled on the pitch, Long’s grit, determination and passion have stayed consistent.

If you had 11 players with the heart and desire of Long, rarely would a team lose.

So often in football, it’s the eye-catching winger or goal machine striker who grabs the attention and headlines.

However, in every successful team there is a player in the Sam Long mould.

A player who can be relied upon every week, and will leave everything on the pitch.

In the situation the U’s find themselves in right now, players like Long will be a dream for head coach Karl Robinson.

That is why the new three-year deal handed to Long is thoroughly deserved.

Homegrown talent like Long should be nurtured and allowed to flourish, and there is nothing more fans like seeing than a local lad pull on the jersey.

The club has a healthy crop of emerging talent, and Long should very much be an example to all of them.