Reading boss expects to lose players

READING boss Brian McDermott is facing up to losing some of his top players following yesterday’s 4-2 defeat by Swansea in the npower Championship play-off final.

Striker Shane Long could not recapture the form at Wembley which has seen him hit 25 goals this season, but he could now move on over the summer.

Liverpool and Everton are among the top-flight sides thought to be tracking the 24-year-old Irishman while Noel Hunt, Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff also have admirers.

McDermott admitted: “We have got good players and I’m sure there will be interest, but that’s probably not something to worry about now.”

The Royals looked dead and buried after two goals from Scott Sinclair, the first from the penalty spot, and another from Stephen Dobbie left them 3-0 down at the break.

To add to their problems, substitute Jay Tabb and coach Nigel Gibbs were sent to the stands for protesting to referee Phil Dowd.

But McDermott almost masterminded a memorable comeback after Hunt forced an own-goal from Joe Allen and Matt Mills headed a second, and they were inches away from levelling when Jem Karacan hit the post. However, Sinclair’s second penalty condemned Reading to another season outside the elite.

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But despite the disappointment, McDermott intends to have another stab at promotion next term.

“Our momentum was terrific in the second half of the season,” he added. “We were top of the league over the last 17 games, if you consider where we were in February - 12th or 13th. I don’t think too many people would have thought we would get to where we were.

“Manchester United lost the Champions League final to Barcelona and I’m sure Sir Alex Ferguson is just thinking about how he can win the Champions League next season.”

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