Reading’s Long should be ready to face Norwich City
Reading top scorer Shane Long is willing to play through the pain barrier to dent Norwich City's Championship promotion bid in tomorrow's Carrow Road encounter.
The 24-year-old has required injections in a hip injury to feature for club and country this week but the 15-goal striker insists he is ready to spearhead Reading's attack against the Canaries.
Long slotted a penalty to cap a remarkable Royals' comeback in the corresponding league fixture earlier this season which saw Paul Lambert's men race into a 3-1 lead before skipper Grant Holt was red carded in first half stoppage time.
Long was also the man who scored twice at Carrow Road in April 2009 as Reading won 2-0 to leave Bryan Gunn's Canaries on the brink of relegation.
The Tipperary-born striker played 45 minutes in the Republic of Ireland's midweek Carling Nations Cup 3-0 romp against Wales – and is confident he can handle another tough shift at Carrow Road.
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'The injury is in my right hip. I had to get a few injections before the game to kill the pain. It's a bit sore out on the pitch, but you can get through it,' he said. 'I had a fitness test before the QPR game then the doctor gave me an injection to numb it up which wasn't very pleasant. It's the first time I've had one and hopefully it will be the last because I don't really like needles. But these things need to be done to get me through.
'Before the Ireland game I couldn't really run properly, but our physio back in Reading said I can't do any damage to it, so I never thought twice about it. It's one of those things that just takes a lot of time to heal, but when we're playing Tuesday and Saturday in the Championship, that doesn't give me time to rest up. I'd say it will probably be fine in a few weeks.'
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Long was linked with a January window move to Premier League strugglers Wolves which would have paved the way to renew his prolific partnership alongside ex-Reading and Republic team mate Kevin Doyle, who replaced Long at half-time against the Welsh.
'Obviously I want to get there (the Premier League) as soon as I can and hopefully it's with Reading this year and, if not, hopefully someone else wants me there,' he said. 'The club hasn't said anything to me. I don't know if they had anyone in for me or offers. I know it's a cliche to say it but I was just concentrating on my game and thinking all that side of things would take care of itself.'
Long admits mid-table Reading have little margin for error left to revive their play-off push ahead of tomorrow's Norwich trip after losing to ten-men leaders QPR last weekend.
'That's the reason QPR are top of the table, because when things aren't going their way they still manage to grab a win out of nothing,' he said. 'We'll have to learn from the experience.'