Long has Premier passion

Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni sang the Reading striker's praises after the 2-1 loss to Norway in which he scored and predicted that big things lie ahead for him if he continues to play and score regularly for his club.

However, Long's ambitions for the immediate future are collective as well as personal, and he said: "We (Reading) are playing well week in, week out and we definitely have a good enough squad - young, but good enough - to get into the play-offs at least and push for that Premier League position. That's where it is all at."

Long has played in 17 of Reading's 21 games to date this season and scored four goals, and he has two more in three appearances for Ireland.

He started last month's Euro 2012 qualifier in Slovakia after scoring as a substitute in the 3-2 defeat by Russia four days earlier.

But he was a revelation on Wednesday evening when, in his 16th senior appearance for his country, he stood in for the injured Robbie Keane and got his side off to the perfect start by winning and then converting a fifth-minute penalty.

Long said: "I landed on the ball and there was no-one taking it from me. It was never said who was on penalties.

"Glenn (Whelan) was the obvious option. He asked me if I fancied it and I said yes, and that was it.

"I know if I had missed, he would have had words to say, so it was nice just to stick it away in the corner."

Source: PA

Source: PA