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The former Shamrock Rovers striker has sealed a move to League Two side Accrington Stanley on a six-month loan deal

Republic of Ireland under-21 striker Karl Sheppard has joined Accrington Stanley on loan until January from Premier League new boys Reading.

Sheppard played the second half of the Reds’ pre-season friendly with Coventry City at the weekend and scored in their 4-1 defeat. The 21-year-old joined Reading last January from Shamrock Rovers after impressing for the Hoops during their Europa League campaign.

The Royals beat stiff competition to capture the forward but injuries have meant his first team chances have been limited at the Madejski Stadium.

"It was unexpected to play 45 minutes," said Sheppard. "I thought I was only going to play a small bit but I ended up doing more and I was happy to get the goal.

"I have six months to impress really. Paul Cook (Accrington Stanley manager) is all about his strikers scoring so hopefully I can be one of those,” he added.

The Dublin-born striker started his career with Everton before returning home to Ireland and featuring for Galway United and Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland. Sheppard scored 15 goals for Michael O’Neill’s side during his one season in Tallaght.

Former Sligo Rovers manager Paul Cook is the man in charge at the Crown Ground and his style of play was one of the factors which drew Sheppard to the club.

"Paul's a very good manager and I know all about him. He likes to play a nice brand of football and likes his strikers to score goals so that's what drew me towards this," he said.

Sheppard made his Republic of Ireland U21 debut in November 2011 in a European qualifier win over Liechtenstein and Cook is delighted to have secured the services of the former Galway United striker. "We're absolutely delighted to have got Karl in and we can't thank Reading enough for letting us have him," admitted Cook.

He added: "He's a lad who like a lot of people needs to be playing games and I think you could see from his finish on Saturday that if we get him in the right areas he'll score goals.

"He seemed to score against me in Ireland quite a lot!" joked Cook.