Date:Friday January 5 2007
After five frustrating months on the treatment table, Royals striker Dave Kitson is set to make his long-awaited return to action in tomorrow`s FA Cup Third Round clash against Burnley.
The prolific forward, who has enjoyed just 45 minutes of Premiership football this season, notably scoring his side`s first ever goal in the top flight, is finally over his injury nightmare. Kitson now has other concerns, however, as his manager has been critical of his approach to training.
It will be the first time that 25-year-old Kitson pulls on the blue and white hoops since the opening day of the season when he scored in the 3-2 victory over Middlesbrough, but was withdrawn minutes before half time following a knee-high horror tackle from Boro`s Chris Riggott.
Well on the road to recovery, Kitson resumed light training before pulling a hamstring when striking a ball.
He then suffered further setback in December when he required an operation to remove his appendix.
Throughout his Reading career Kitson has been hounded by a succession of unrelated injuries.
His manager, Steve Coppell, explained, 'We hope having Dave back will be a big boost to everyone at the club.
'There's no doubt he's been a talisman in the past and he has consistently scored goals at all levels.
'But there's no hiding from the fact he's been fragile in a physical sense.
'He's never had a really concerted run of games without being injured and there's no way we're going to gamble with his fitness at this stage. He's ready when he's ready.'
Coppell believes that Kitson will only stand a chance of improving his long-term fitness if he changes his outlook to training.
'Dave isn't a very good trainer, to be honest,' argued Coppell. 'He's far better when he's playing in an actual game.
'These days players realise the value of their own fitness. You have to be supremely fit to withstand the rigours of modern day football.
'But Dave has more of an older attitude towards training which he's got to change.
'I don't think he gets these knocks because of his height. I look at Peter Crouch and I don't see him injured too often. He's got a similar kind of frame to Dave so I don't think that's a valid argument.'
Since joining the Berkshire club, Kitson has netted an impressive 48 goals in 95 appearances for the Royals following his £150,000 switch from Cambridge United on Boxing Day 2003.
Coppell added, 'He's only had one training session where he's joined in with the others and they were a mixture of fringe players and youth team lads.
'He came through that and did well but we can't get carried away.
'I've got to make sure he's fit and fully recovered before we decide anything so we'll be keeping a close eye on him.
'If he does well in training today and before the game then you never know, we may use him.'
As outlined by Coppell, it was be a huge boost to have a fit-again Dave Kitson back amongst the selection ranks, and with strike-partners Leroy Lita and Kevin Doyle both in a rich vein of goalscoring form, the Royals will surely be set in good stead in their quest to achieve safety within the Premier Division.
Even if Kitson features in the Burnley match this weekend, Coppell may decide to re-introduce him into the starting line-up slowly. With a clear-mentality of not changing a winning team, Lita and Doyle will surely be regarded as the two first choice strikers at this moment in time.
But with Kitson as a more than competent alternative, there may will be goals scored in the remainder of Reading`s season.
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