CHAMPIONSHIP outfit Reading are reportedly “keeping tabs” on Shane Long with his contract at Saints set to expire this month.

The 35-year-old is yet to confirm a new deal at St Mary’s, with BerkshireLive claiming Paul Ince’s Royals are monitoring the situation surrounding the Republic of Ireland international.

Long is a fan favourite at Reading, having scored 54 goals in 202 games for the club after originally signing in 2005.

The striker went on to join West Bromwich Albion for £6.5million in August 2011, before a brief stay at Hull City.

Long signed for Saints for a reported £12million in August 2014 and has since gone on to make 244 appearances for the south coast side.

He has scored 37 goals in his Saints career and also registered 27 assists.

The forward came off the bench for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side during their Premier League season finale last month, playing the final seven minutes.

Speaking about the striker to the Daily Echo, Hasenhuttl said: “From the physical side it is definitely possible for him to keep on going in the summer, definitely.

“He is very robust and when you are so quick, yeah you lose a little bit when you get older, but still quick enough for playing as a striker. It is no coincidence that he has played so many games in the Premier League.”

Hasenhuttl, who retired from his role as a striker when he was almost 37, continued: “We speak about a different level when I stopped my game – not on this level, I never played on this level, so I do not want to compare him to me.

“But I know how it feels when you come to 35, 36 or 37 as a player. I must say that I absolutely love this game to play, and that is the reason why I tried to play for as long as possible.

“I think he does the same, he loves this game, he loves to compete, he loves to come here and train every day. It is something extraordinarily beautiful.

“He still wants to learn, wants to get better and still wants to improve his game. This is the most beautiful job - better than being a manager!”

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