x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Long hopes to repay one manager and prove something to another

With the prestige, and money, that comes with moving up to the English Premier League on the line, Swansea City face Reading at Wembley Stadium.

Shane Long, the Reading striker, wants to repay the faith of manager Brian McDermott by shooting his team into the Premier League in today's Championship play-off final against Swansea City.

The Royals head into the match at Wembley Stadium as the division's form team and fresh from a 3-0 aggregate semi-final triumph over Cardiff City.

Today's game has been dubbed "the £60 million match" - a figure the winning club can expect to take in next season through lucrative Premier League television rights and other sponsorship deals.

Long scored twice in Reading's victory over Cardiff to increase his goal tally for the season to 25, making him one of the hottest properties outside the top flight.

Liverpool and Everton have been discussed as potential destinations for the Ireland international, although Long is focused only on further justifying McDermott's belief in him.

"At the start of the season I was playing well but just couldn't score," he said. "Any other manager would have dropped me.

"But even though some of the fans were shouting for my head, the gaffer has stuck by me. Probably the only way to repay that is to help get Reading back into the Premier League."

Long joined the Berkshire club for £10,000 (Dh60,600) in 2005 and at first lodged with McDermott, cutting the grass to help pay his way. Not only did the Reading coach help Long with a place to live, but he helped Long rediscover his confidence when he was made the club's manager.

Long had fallen out of favour under Brendan Rodgers and it had looked at one point as if the striker might leave the Madejski Stadium.

Rodgers is now manager of Swansea, and Long is keen to prove his worth.

"It would be nice to show him there's a bit more about me than he thought," Long said.