De La Cruz Questions His Future
Royals full-back Ulises de La Cruz admits his Reading future is in doubt as he needs regular first-team football to keep alive his hopes of representing Ecuador in the Copa America this summer.
The right-back, who arrived on a free transfer from Aston Villa in the summer, has only made two league appearances for Reading this season.
De la Cruz will get a rare chance to impress in tonight`s rescheduled FA Cup third-round clash at home to Burnley.
Although the former Hibernian defender insists he is not unhappy with life in Reading, he admits he may have to look to get away if he is not in Steve Coppell`s plans as his place in Ecuador`s squad could be in jeopardy when the Copa America takes place in Venezuela.
The 32-year explained, "I am looking forward to tonight`s game. It has been hard not playing, but I have not complained because the team has done well. My national team have been in contact with me, though.
"This season is an important one for me because it is the Copa America so I need to be playing. I will speak to the manager and my agent. I am not unhappy here but I do want to play football."
De la Cruz played for the full 90 minutes in the Royals` 1-0 victory at West Ham`s Upton Park on 1st October, but he has not featured since being hauled off at half-time during the 4-0 defeat at the Madejski Stadium to Arsenal later that month on 22nd October.
He added, "I haven`t had many opportunities and it is hard because it takes time to get an understanding with the midfield and the rest of your defenders.
"But I am fit and I have confidence in my ability. It is an important game for myself, the other players who have not played much - and the club getting into the next round."
Steve Coppell is likely to stick with the team that he picked for Saturday`s match, so there will be a debut for goalkeeper Adam Federici.
Dave Kitson is likely to be on the bench, while Bobby Convey is set for his first start since the end of October.
Andre Bikey and Sam Sodje are also expected to form a central defensive partnership for the first time as Coppell looks to rest both Ibrahima Sonko and Ivar Ingimarsson.