Date:Friday January 19 2007
Royals striker Dave Kitson has vowed to fill the void left by Kevin Doyle after recently returning to action after a lengthy spell of successive injury lay-offs.
Kitson netted in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Alan Pardew`s Charlton earlier this week, which marked his first strike since prodding home Reading`s first ever Premiership goal against Middlesbrough back in August.
Minutes after scoring such a historic goal, Kitson was carried off after suffering a knee-injury from a horrendous challenge from Boro defender Chris Riggott. He also underwent an appendix operation last month, but made his long-awaited comeback last week in Reading`s FA Cup victory over Burnley when he came on as a substitute.
It is anticipated that Kitson will be amongst Steve Coppell`s squad for the visit of Sheffield United tomorrow, a feat that will be the first time the 25-year-old goal ace has been selected for a Premiership match since the opening day.
Kitson has been the Royals` top marksman over the last two seasons, and is confident he can make up for the absence of Kevin Doyle who is set to be missing for close to a month after suffering a hamstring injury at Goodison Park last weekend.
Kits said, "Every year I get asked 'can you score goals?` And every year, emphatically, it is the same answer. There are 20-plus goals in me.
"At the moment I`ve got one Premiership goal in 45 minutes, which isn`t a bad record. My goals record is about 100 in 200 games. I`m thinking maybe I can get seven or eight this season.
"You look at Kevin Doyle - sometimes the higher level a player plays, the more comfortable they are.
"He is a prime example of that. He looks at home in the Premier League. If you are a goalscorer you score goals. It`s as simple as that."
But Kitson admits that it may take him a while to find his top form, having been out of action for so long.
He added, "Fitness will make a difference. I have scored a lot of goals late on in games, but not having match fitness will disrupt that.
"I have to get into the team first and get back in the gaffer`s eye."
Shane Long, who joined the club from Cork City along with Kevin Doyle, is likely to partner Leroy Lita in attack, providing the young Irishman recovers from a slight thigh-strain that he suffered in training yesterday.
Boss Steve Coppell, though, is confident Kitson could start if needed as he has been back in full training since the turn of the year and also played 75 minutes against Charlton on Tuesday when he netted in a 2-0 victory.
Coppel explained, "Shane had to come in as his thigh was a bit sore. It was a precaution but we`ll wait and see.
"If his leg is fine then I would say 'yes he will play`. If it`s not then no, but I don`t see any reason why Kits couldn`t start.
"He`s been training for two-and-a-bit weeks now. He played for 70-odd minutes the other day and just playing in that game was a boost for him. I don`t think starting would be a problem for him."
Such was our luck last year that whenever one of our three recognised strikers suffered an injury, there was another waiting for his chance since returning to action himself. Fortunately that trend is set to continue, as although Doyle will now be missing for a few weeks, Kitson is nearing a return to the starting line-up and will be hungry to prove he`s the top striker at this club.
Although his season was disrupted by a spell of injuries last year, he still finished as the team`s top goalscorer and will be looking to quickly get back onto the scoresheet and add to his only Premiership strike thus far.
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