Copps: Little Could Have Kept Royals Up
Royals boss Steve Coppell has echoed my beliefs that Glen Little`s long-term injury played a major role in Reading`s relegation from the Premier League.
The lanky winger played a major role in Reading`s record-breaking 2006-07 Championship title win, and was again a key player in the Royals first season in the Premier League, helping them to an eighth place finish.
While many people blame the departure of Steve Sidwell for Reading`s return to the Championship, I have always maintained that it was the loss of Little through injury that proved the pivotal factor.
After suffering from an Achilles injury last April, Little`s season was a right-off after making a brief substitute cameo in two of the final few games.
Great minds and all that, Steve Coppell has revealed that in his mind Little could have kept the Royals up.
He said, 'Glen`s absence was massive because for the past two years he had been our most creative player.
'He had more assists then any other player in the league and that was despite not playing every game. All along I just expected him to be back a lot sooner.
'When he was first injured last April, I thought he would be back ready for pre-season.
'We did not want to take the course of surgery and hoped other action would prove effective.
'But with the wonderful gift of hindsight, if we had taken the option of surgery then he would have been back in November probably. He wouldn`t have played every game, but he certainly would have made a difference.
'We were relegated on goal difference and that could have been different had we had Glen.'
With Little hopefully going to be fit for the forthcoming season, Coppell did concede that the Royals still needed to find the right balance in midfield.
He said, 'We missed (Sidwell`s) drive and his bold personality. We were never going to be able to replace him like for like.
'We brought in other players and we never found a combination that was as effective as James Harper and Siddy together. Harper scored six goals last season, which was probably more than normal, but he has just matured as a player.
'I think finding a combination that is effective will be a big factor.'
With the club being linked with Swansea midfielder Ferrie Bodde and Sunderland man Dean Whitehead, the Royals could yet find the right midfield combination to help with their push to return to the top flight.