Shane Long goes into the shop window in Macedonia on Saturday night – with a $30million price tag on his head.
The Reading striker will partner Robbie Keane just days after his Championship play-off heartache at Wembley.
Tipperary born Long was an integral part of the Reading side pipped to the Premier League by Swansea in Monday’s decider.
He is still set to play top flight football in England next season but any club who wants to sign him – Liverpool, Wolves and Celtic have all been linked – will have to pay Reading a whopping $30million for Long’s services.
“I’m aware of Celtic’s interest in Shane Long,” said the Reading chairman john Madejski as Long joined up with the Ireland squad in Dublin ahead of Thursday’s flight to Skopje.
“Neil Lennon has been watching him for three games now. He’s been at our past two games and he was there again at Wembley. We are still to hear anything official from Celtic but it’s obvious they are interested.
“How confident am I we can ward off Celtic’s interest? Not very. It’s sad that we didn’t get promoted because Shane would have liked to stay at Reading if we had reached the Premier League. But that has changed because we will be in the Championship.
“Shane is world-class. What is the value I would place on him? £20m. Now we will just have to see what happens with him.
“As well as being a great player, he’s a lovely lad. If Celtic are to land him, they will be privileged indeed because he’s just a super player and a super individual.
“He has all the right credentials to go to the very top of the game. He’s hard working and extremely cool in front of goal. I don’t know if he will end up at Celtic but what is certain is that he will not be at Reading next season.”
Long’s Premier League credentials have been endorsed by Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni and his assistant Marco Tardelli, the pair relieved that he came through Monday’s play-off final unscathed with Macedonia on the horizon.
“Football is fantastic because after two or three days everything can change,” said Tardelli.
“We know Shane Long will be very sad about Monday but he will be fine for Saturday. I think he will be the key man in the transfer window.
“Yes, I see him as a Premier League player now. He’s very good now, he has improved. Like McGeady was when we arrived here, he was very shy but like him he has improved. Shane physically has become very strong, he’s not scared, he’s very fast and he reads the game better.”
Manchester United’s John O’Shea, Spartak Moscow’s Aiden McGeady and Huddersfield’s Kevin Kilbane are now with the Irish squad after their club duty at the weekend.
Sean St Ledger and Keith Fahey remain injury doubts for Saturday’s game while goalkeeper Darren Randolph has been ruled out by injury with Ipswich Town’s Brian Murphy taking his place.