Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reading's Irish striking duet on target

Reading manager Brian McDermott has hailed the Irish striker partnership of Noel Hunt and Shane Long after they secured a 2-1 Championship win over Millwall at the Madejski Stadium last night.

Waterford born Hunt broke the deadlock three minutes in and even though Millwall equalised through Neil Harris, Long claimed the winner in the 55th-minute.

That took the Tipperary born striker to 16 for the season while fellow Ireland international Hunt now has six from 13 hampionship starts.

Long may also find himself with a starting birth up front in Ireland’s European Championship qualifier with Macedonia in Dublin next month, as Robbie Keane may struggle to regain fitness in time.

The Royals pair came in for praise from the manager after ensuring they claimed their first league win in seven, moving them back to within seven points of the play-offs.

"His (Long's) partnership with Noel Hunt works well," said McDermott.

"When I was chief scout I watched Noel play a lot in Scotland and he's one that defenders hate to play against.

"He didn't stop working. The last thing you want is someone to come to the Madejski and outwork us.

McDermott also revealed that Long is playing through the pain barrier as Reading try to remain in play-off contention.

"He has problems with his knee and stomach," said the Reading boss.

"I told him that if he needed a rest he would have to come and see me because I wasn't going to see him. He said he wouldn't be coming to see me."