Reading striker Shane Long wants to repay manager Brian McDermott's faith by firing his team into the Barclays Premier League in Monday's npower Championship final against Swansea.
The Royals head into the match as the division's form team and fresh from an impressive 3-0 aggregate semi-final triumph over Cardiff. Long netted twice in the victory over the Bluebirds to increase his goal haul for the season to 25, which has unsurprisingly seen him become one of the hottest properties outside the top flight.
"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."
Liverpool and Everton have been mooted as potential destinations for the Republic of Ireland international, who added: "I've played 50 games and scored more than 25 goals so far this season. To get the winner at Wembley would probably do it."
Long joined the Berkshire club for £10,000 in 2005 and at first lodged with McDermott, cutting the grass to help pay his way.
Not only did the Reading boss help Long with a place to live, but he helped him rediscover his confidence when he took the manager's hotseat.
Long fell out of favour under previous boss Brendan Rodgers and it had looked at one point as if the striker may leave the Madejski Stadium.
Rodgers is now manager of Monday's opponents Swansea and Long is keen to prove his worth.
"I was out of favour under Brendan," he said. "He preferred other strikers to me.
"I don't know why he didn't like me, so it would be nice to show him there's a bit more about me than he thought."
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