Blues confident ahead of Reading trip
A confidence-filled Blues side go to Reading tomorrow feeling positive that they can go up automatically, writes Derek Davis.With a third of the season to go the Blues know promotion is within their grasp and they have no intention of throwing it away.
A confidence-filled Blues side go to Reading tomorrow feeling positive that they can go up automatically, writes Derek Davis.
With a third of the season to go the Blues know promotion is within their grasp and they have no intention of throwing it away.
Nor do they feel the pressure of being Championship leaders – on the contrary, they are loving every moment of it and intend keeping that feeling.
Blues boss Joe Royle is delighted with the way his squad is responding to the challenge.
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He said: "The players are flying. They enjoy being top and are absolutely full of it. It is a noisy dressing room, which is what I love to hear.
"As a group of players they are as good as I have known and the tightness of the group means they are up for it all the time.
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"We are well into the second half of the season now and the spirit will not wane – that is for sure."
Royle has again dismissed the notion that there are any teams better than Ipswich and Wigan, confident they can maintain the two points a game average and knows the title is very much in their own hands.
He said: "I keep hearing everyone can beat everyone in this division but there are two sides who have lost just five games in 29 so it is not quite true.
"While we will be showing Reading all due respect I certainly don't expect us to lose there."
Nor does he expect it to be easy against the fourth-placed side.
Royle said: "Reading are a very athletic team that are hard to beat on their home ground. They have a home record second only to us this season.
"Steve (Coppell) always organises teams well and Reading are a fast team.
"We saw them struggle against Swansea on Monday but they will be up for it against us."
Reading will be without suspended midfielder Steve Sidwell, while Les Ferdinand is battling to be fit after a hamstring pull.
Former Colchester United striker Dean Morgan has an ankle injury, although he could be on the bench.
Royle warned: "Reading will miss Sidwell and I'm glad he isn't playing as he is a top performer in this league.
"Steve will have other options though and it will be interesting to see what his plan is if he knows how to beat us.
"Les has been top class and even when he went to Reading he could have gone to Southampton so if he is still fancied by Premiership teams it shows he still has a lot to offer.
"I have always been a big fan of Les. He is exceptional in the air and even at 38 he has a good turn of pace."
Richard Naylor has been struggling with a groin injury again this week but is expected to come through and make his 250th Blues appearance.
Ian Westlake returns after a one-match ban while Jim Magilton is likely to be the one who gives way even if he has fully recovered from a hamstring strain.