Date:Friday March 16 2007
Finally, the news that we here at Vital Reading have been waiting to hear for what seems an eternity; Steve Coppell is ready to hand Andre Bikey a permanent contract!
Coppell believes that Bikey was fortunate to get his chance in the Premiership after his sending off for violent conduct in the Royals` pre-season tour of Sweden, but is now set to open talks about the possibility of signing the powerful player on a permanent basis.
Bikey, a Cameroonian international who is on a season-long loan from Lokomotiv Moscow, arrived during the club`s pre-season preparations in order to sure up the club`s first Premiership squad.
But he looked to have destroyed any hope of an opportunity to impress at Premier League level after he was shown a straight red card for head-butting an opponent during the friendly 2-1 victory over Orgryte.
Fortunately Coppell is the most level-headed of managers in the business, and gave Bikey the benefit of the doubt, putting his aggression down to his will to impress.
Coppell said, "In one of his first games for us in Sweden he got sent off," recalled Coppell. "It`s not what we`re about but in a back-handed way it made me more aware of how desperate he was to come to us.
"There was an element then that he had blown it, but we didn`t have many players.
"Given different circumstances he might not have got another chance. He was fortunate. We needed more depth at that time and when the deal was structured it became more attractive."
Bikey has already picked up six bookings in addition to one red card for two cautions this season and Coppell admits the defender has to learn to be more disciplined.
The Royals` boss added, "His bookings are a concern, but it`s something he`s working on. We try not to give fouls away so he has to learn our way. If he`s doing what the rest aren`t doing then he`s out of sync.
"He is improving, without doubt, but he has a tendency to be rash on occasions. He made massive strides. When he first came in he was very raw.
"I think that showed how important it was for him to try to impress. He got very frustrated and he`s still coming to terms with Premiership football.
"But given his age and given the quality of some of his performances, he needs to find consistency. Even within a game he can be inconsistent. He does some superb things then does some naive things."
Bikey`s loan spell comes to an end in July, but the club are set to succumb to Lokomotiv Moscow`s evaluation of around £1.5 million for the player`s services.
He added, "For 22 years of age he has a very bright future - I hope with us. He is still desperate to prove something."
Meanwhile Bikey is eager to get the chance to play for Cameroon in the African Nations Cup qualifier with Liberia next Saturday.
He has already been called up, but must wait for the Home Office to return his passport as they are updating his current visa.
"I am hoping it comes through today. If it does then I will go away with Cameroon on Monday," said Bikey.
On a typical match day, we here at Vital Reading can be heard loudly singing Bikey`s praises, and we firmly believe that the player has done enough to be considered as a permanent signing for us. Comparisons to our current star centre-back, Ibrahima Sonko, have been made due to the player`s clear potential but also his roughness around the edges.
In my opinion, Bikey is a better all-round footballer than Sonko was when he first arrived here, and has the ability to improve at a high rate of knots. Hopefully we shall see him in the Reading squad when they line of for their first Premiership game of the new season, and possibly that of the club`s first European adventure also.
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