One to Watch - Shane Long
Reading forward Shane Long has been outlined by Vital QPR as the One to Watch ahead of this evening's clash.
Name: Shane Patrick Long
Date of Birth: 22-01-1987 (Gortnahoe, Ireland)
Former Clubs: Cork City
Appearances (Goals): 103 (17)
After choosing football over hurling, Shane Long was picked up on a scholarship by Irish giants Cork City and made his one and only appearance for the side in 2005 in the Setanta Sports Cup.
Reading boss Steve Coppell was impressed with both the young forward and his team-mate Kevin Doyle and activated clauses in their contracts to bring them to the Madejski Stadium.
While Doyle proved an instant hit with the Royals, the younger of the pair, Long, was introduced a little slower making his debut from the bench in December 2005 replacing Dave Kitson.
He bagged his first goal to equalise away to Derby County with two minutes remaining, this time replacing American international Bobby Convey with 20 minutes to go.
Further goals against Birmingham City in the FA Cup, before a brace against the aforementioned Derby saw him to four goals in the second part of the season in which the Royals achieved promotion.
Ironically as Reading climbed into the top-flight, Long improved his appearance count, making 23 appearances for the Royals, scoring goals against Burnley, Liverpool, Sheffield United and Wigan Athletic.
He was also rewarded with a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad for their slender victory over San Marino. He started and finished the game in which Kevin Kilbane secured the win in the final minute.
He replaced his goalscoring team-mate Kevin Doyle in his subsequent international appearance as Eire got the better of Slovakia by the odd goal.
32 appearances followed for Long in the 2007-08 season, but unfortunately for him and Reading they suffered second-season syndrome and were relegated from the Premier League.
He only managed three goals all season, one coming in the remarkable 7-4 defeat to Portsmouth, and others in victories over Newcastle United and Manchester City. Three more Ireland caps came against the Czech Republic, Germany and Serbia
On his first season back down in the Championship, Long made 43 appearances scoring nine goals for the Royals on their way to the playoffs.
They were defeated over two legs by Burnley who went on to achieve promotion in the playoff final with victory over Sheffield United.
With team-mates leaving around him such as Kevin Doyle, Stephen Hunt and Andre Bikey, Long has become a bigger focus in the line-up alongside new players such as Grzegorz Rasiak and Jobi McAnuff.
So far this season Long has played five times, failing to hit the net for the Royals, could this be the players' lucky night?
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