Ben Foster believes West Bromwich Albion dropped a clanger when they agreed to sell Shane Long to Hull City during the January transfer window.
The Republic of Ireland international was on the verge of joining the Tigers during the summer window, but the Baggies pulled the plug when they were unable to secure the services of Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku for a second loan stint. However, Steve Bruce finally landed his man in the winter for a fee which could rise to £7million.
Long has gone on to score three Premier League goals for Hull, and was particularly impressive against his former club on Saturday. The 27-year-old won a penalty and scored a goal in their 2-0 win against Albion at the KC Stadium, and his performance was one which has led to Foster questioning the decision to sell him earlier this year.
“Sometimes I think why did we let him go to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s not even hindsight. He was one of our best players and it’s disappointing that he’s no longer here. He will give you 110% every single minute of every game. He’s a fantastic player and we would love to have him now. It’s a business at the end of the day, so it’s out of our hands.”
Pepe Mel, meanwhile, has also indicated that he would have liked Long to remain part of his squad at the Hawthorns. Although the Spaniard was in charge of the Baggies when the former Reading striker left for Hull, he claims the wheels had already been set in motion for the transfer and there was very little he could do to prevent it.
“Before I arrived here, Long was out. It was not my problem,” he said ahead of the weekend’s fixture. “Of course (I would have liked to have kept him) – Romelu Lukaku too. But it was not possible. My job began on January 14, and Shane Long was at Hull City. Shane Long is a good player, a good striker, but we have other players.”
Although Hull are not yet clear of relegation completely, they are now eight points ahead of the drop zone and must be feeling confident they will secure enough points to avoid an instant return to the Championship. West Brom are in a more dire situation as they are just three points ahead of third-bottom Sunderland, who have played two games less.