By Paul Jones
Steve Cooper hopes Conor Gallagher can finally break his Swansea goal duck as his team makes a last-gasp bid for a play-off spot.
Chelsea loanee Gallagher, 20, impressed with Charlton in the first half of the season before heading to South Wales where he has made another big impact.
His creative spark is a key asset for Swansea head coach Cooper but for all his assists since joining in January, Gallagher is yet to find the back of the net in a white shirt.
“I’m very pleased with Conor’s contribution, but it’s a little bit obvious he hasn’t scored,” said Cooper.
“We would have liked him to and he definitely would as well, but when you play in a position like Conor’s, you have to play for the team and also be involved in goals.
“He’s really high on that in terms of assists. We’re really happy with him. He’s taken his game to a really good level by being here. It would be good if he saved a goal for Reading.”
Gallagher, who has played 44 games this season but joined the Swans in the January transfer window, is a certain starter at Reading tomorrow.
Cooper’s men must win and hope rivals Cardiff City – a place and three points above them in sixth – lose at home to bottom club Hull.
Swansea’s chance of reaching the play-offs is, therefore, an outside bet that relies on others, but Cooper has faith in his young guns to handle the pressure and deliver a win.
His team will then have to hope Hull can do them a favour.
Just as Gallagher has not scored since arriving in January, Hull have not win away from home since New Year’s Day.
“All our young players can have bright futures if they work hard. Conor’s minutes this season is a testament to how hard he works,” said Cooper.
“He’s not on his own. All of our young boys know what it takes and we have really seen them grow up in recent weeks.”
Cooper will be without goalkeeper Freddie Woodman for Reading, Kyle Naughton is suspended, and midfielder George Byers is a doubt.
“I am enjoying it. It’s tense, but that’s because it really matters. We will go to Reading in a good frame of mind,” said Cooper.
Andre Ayew insists Swansea City can serve their fans the sweetest end to any season they have ever tasted – promotion to the Premier League at Cardiff’s expense.
The Ghanaian striker – the only notable relic of the Swans’ days with the big boys – admits Cardiff have most of the bullets in the great Welsh shoot-out for sixth place.
But Ayew, who says he wants to stay for the final year of his contract, believes far stranger things have happened in the Championship on graduation day.
“For me, whether it’s Cardiff or not, I just want to be there in the play-offs,” said Ayew.
“If it’s at the expense of Cardiff and it is a sweeter taste for the fans, then so be it. I’m happy when they are happy.
“I just want to make sure we get the Gods of football behind us and make the play-offs. If we get there it’s a whole different ball game.
“I’d prefer to be in Cardiff’s position. In football you have three possibilities – win, lose or draw and Cardiff can take two of those .
“But we know in football that when you are also playing a team who are fighting for their lives, it’s very difficult.”
Ayew, 30, has played 43 of the Swans’ 45 Championship games and is their top scorer with 15 goals.
Manager Steve Cooper is desperate to hold onto that input, whatever division the club are in and Ayew added: “I’m happy here. I love it and I have a great bond with the club and fans.
“It’s something we’ll sit down and think about when the time is right but at the moment I’m thinking of trying to make the play-offs.”