Date:Wednesday February 21 2007
Royals striker Dave Kitson has admitted that Saturday`s opponents Middlesbrough will always remind him of his worst moment as a footballer.
Having enjoyed a dream start to Premiership football in scoring his club`s first ever top flight goal, Kitson`s day was marred by a devastating knee-high challenge from Middlesbrough`s Chris Riggott that saw he limp off before half-time. Kitson then missed the Royals` next 21 Premiership matches as a result.
When asked about seeing Riggott for the first time since the incident, Kitson said, "At the start of the season I would never have said it would be Chris Riggott who was going to injure me, so it just goes to show it could have been anyone.
"It doesn`t make any difference, but I don`t think he`s playing for them anyway.
"Middlesbrough will forever be the team I got injured against on the opening day of the season.
"In my head, even though I scored against them with my first Premiership goal and the club`s first Premiership goal, it (the injury) overshadowed it a bit. If I`d been injured for just a month afterwards I probably could have kept the decent thoughts in my head.
"But six months is a long time out by anyone`s standards.
"It was a massive chunk out of my career right when I needed it most," added the 27-year-old striker.
"So I can`t help but have those thoughts in my head.
"But for everyone else, they just see Reading going to the Riverside and another game we have to win."
When the sides met on the opening day of the season at the Madejski Stadium, the day looked to be a sour one when Boro stormed into a 2-0 lead inside the opening twenty minutes.
But Steve Coppell`s newly-promoted Championship winners battled hard to over-turn the deficit and record a famous 3-2 victory, thanks to goals from Kitson himself, midfielder Steve Sidwell, and Kitson`s replacement, Leroy Lita.
And Kitson reckons that encounter was one of the most significant games in the club`s 136-year history.
"That game was our first in the Premiership. From Middlesbrough`s point of view, they probably thought we were the whipping boys - and at 2-0 it looked like we were going to be.
"I still thought we had a chance, but at that stage I was stood there on the pitch thinking it was going to be a tough year.
"But the resilience of our team was such that we could have been 3-2 up at half-time - and we would have been had Kevin Doyle been a couple of inches taller.
"But unfortunately I bore the brunt of Boro trying to take the sting out of the game.
"We still managed to win the game and in a way that was the springboard for everything we have done this season.
"It was a hugely important game, one of the most important games in the club`s history."
Kitson has recovered from his injury problems and played the full 90 minutes on Saturday as the Royals held Premiership leaders Manchester United to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the FA Cup.
And the striker added, "I feel all right, training has helped. One of the most impressive things for me to get my head around was half an hour against Villa, then the game against Spurs reserves and then a whole game against Man United.
"If someone said I was going to do that last week I`d say 'I don`t think I can do that`. It has restored a lot of confidence and if wanted I can play."
Reading are definitely without Andre Bikey for the trip to the Riverside, as he picked up his fifth booking of the season against United and faces a one-match ban.
Michael Duberry is favourite to replace him in the starting line-up, but the new £800,000 signing from Stoke City is a slight doubt as he missed training yesterday with illness.
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