Date:Friday January 19 2007
You wouldn`t have thought Reading`s attacking options could get any more limited; what with only five (if you include Seol) senior squad strikers to choose from, and one of them out for about a month and one only having played 30 minutes of Premiership football all season you`d think the worst is over, at least for now, but it seems that the femme fatale known only as fate had other ideas.
Shane Long could join fellow Irishman, Kevin Doyle on the sidelines, for a short period at least after he limped away from Thursday`s training session with pain in his thigh.
Steve Coppell will no doubt be feeling the burden of all these injuries as he looks forward to what can be considered a very, very important home match against Sheffield United.
United, of course have an abundance of strikers, with Neil Warnock having around eight at his disposal for the Saturday afternoon match.
But as for Reading, what options are open to the Royals ahead of tomorrow`s game?
Leroy Lita will make up one half of the equation, the striker has been in great form recently scoring in League games away to Man Utd and Chelsea and 2 in the past 3, but who will partner him up front - how do you solve a problem like Doyler?!
A- Seol Ki-Hyeon
A dip in form has seen Seol`s services not required in the first team of recent, lacklustre performances have seen the South Korean spend a lot of time demoted from the squad. Seol started the season inspiringly on the right wing, but it seemed at times that the work ethic just wasn`t there which saw Glen Little reclaim the right flank as his own.
Seol spent a few games partnering Doyle up front and managed to find net whilst there, he headed home the first goal in the two nil victory against Charlton.
B - Dave Kitson
The injury prone Kitson has spent the entire season - bar 30 minutes! - on the sidelines, having suffered injury after injury the falme haired striker is now fit.
But Steve Coppell is taking his time integrating Kits back in to the side, it would be a shame to see Kits suffer a setback after working so hard to get back, but Coppell has clarified that should he run out of options rushing Kitson back may be his only choice:
'I see no reason why he can't start, he has been training for two-and-a-bit weeks and played 70 minutes the other day so I don't think it will be a problem for him."
But whether he will or not remains to be seen
C - Shane Long -
Should Shano shake off his knock, he looks most likely to start against Sheffield United, especially since he came on against Everton.
The Irish teen is yet to score his first Premiership goal but has demonstrated that he has no problems finding the net in Cup and Reserve games.
Long found the net in Reading`s Carling Cup exit to Liverpool and also scored a hat trick against the arsenal reserve team earlier this season.
D - Simon Cox
This is by far the least likely of all the choices. Though Cox has been out on loan playing for Brentford this season, Cox has had very little first team experience and will be unlikely to make his season debut against Sheffield United.
Verdict: Near Impossible
E - 4-5-1
It is an option open to Coppell, but I don`t believe it to be a path he will follow. Reading have the potential to score goals tomorrow and flooding the midfield will not help this, though the addition of a holding midfielder like Gunarsson (should he be available) would give both Sidwell and Harper license to get forward - or adding an attacking player like Seol would give more potency to the attack.
However leaving Lita stranded up front will probably not be an option.
Meanwhile in the long run, Coppell has now acknowledged that buying another striker may be his only option if he suffers more injuries, while Coppel is confident that 'We have depth in that position, perhaps more than any other.' He hypothesized that: "I would have a problem if another of them had a fairly long-term injury on Saturday or the following Saturday, I would do something then. But as things stand - and I have said this right from the first day of the season - I am not looking for another striker.'
Bobby Zamora is the most likely name associated with the blue and white hoops. He and Coppell share a history from their days together back n Brighton.
But for now Coppell remains stonyfaced and unmoved by his injury problems, at least in face of the media:
'I had no expectations really. I'm very much aware what we are and we are not going to smash anybody's door down with a huge bid. We will do stuff in our own way. If we get players in then fine but as I said before the window opened if we don't it won't be the end of the world.
'As always, there is a lot of phone activity but nothing is close at all. And I never talk about individuals because they are under contract. Other people leak stories but I want us to be judged on our standards.'
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