Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has described Ireland international Shane Long as a "symbol" of the club's philosophy as the Saints reportedly consider a contract extension for the veteran forward.
The 33-year-old's existing deal is due to expire in the summer.
The Tipperary native scored his first league goal of the season on 18 January against Wolves, before netting against Tottenham in a FA Cup fourth round replay at the start of February.
Hasenhuttl believes Long's committed style of play makes him a "symbol for our philosophy".
However, he is keen to delay contract talks with players until the club have almost guaranteed Premier League survival.
"I don't know if I have to bring you up to date because the message was always the same, we said about 36 points and if we have this we start speaking with the players," said the Austrian.
"I think it was a good message to get the focus on our game and on our performance and it was absolutely necessary.
"The time will come and with maybe a lot of fans they want to see Long in our team.
"I enjoy watching him play for this team. He's something of a player that is a symbol for our philosophy - a hard-working guy who is always leaving everything on the pitch for the team and the club.
"This is the reason why, although he's not the top scorer, he's so important and the people love him."
Hasenhuttl's own deal expires in 2021.
The 52-year-old former RB Leipzig coach is currently unconcerned about his future and more preoccupied with results after an uptick in form since late November that has Southampton seven points clear of the relegation zone on 31 points.
"I am always in talks with my chairman, not always about my contract because it's the not most important thing for me," he said.
"I like to work here, I like the challenge I have here, the task every day to come here and I enjoy working every day and concentrate on the more important things in the moment."