Coppell cagey ahead of Town clash

CAGEY Steve Coppell knows the team he feels is capable of beating Ipswich, but is keeping things close to his chest, writes Derek Davis.With Steve Sidwell suspended, top scorer Dave Kitson injured and Les Ferdinand doubtful, the Reading boss has options on how to tackle the Championship leaders.

CAGEY Steve Coppell knows the team he feels is capable of beating Ipswich, but is keeping things close to his chest, writes Derek Davis.

With Steve Sidwell suspended, top scorer Dave Kitson injured and Les Ferdinand doubtful, the Reading boss has options on how to tackle the Championship leaders.

Like many teams of late, the Royals could stretch five across midfield with Andy Hughes and James Harper being joined by Ricky Newman in the middle with American Bobby Convey and Glen Little the wide men.

As they are at home Coppell may look to be more adventurous, using Lloyd Owusu up front with Nicky Forster and tucking Hughes in just behind them.


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Ferdinand will be given until Saturday morning to show he has recovered from a hamstring injury but even if he is passed fit Coppell may not want to risk him returning so soon.

But goals have been a rarity for Reading recently, Forster's extra-time winner over Swansea in the FA Cup was only their second in six games, but they haven't scored in the league for five matches.

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You can understand Coppell casting an envious eye at Joe Royle's big hitters and believes that is why Town are top and Reading are tucked in at fourth.

Coppell said: "Ipswich are potent up front and creative in midfield and they have players with Premiership experience.

"They don't have the tightest back four in the world but the amount of goals they have scored is almost like them throwing down the gauntlet and saying 'come on then, try and out-score us'."

Coppell feels it will be quite a task to break into the automatic top two places, with consistency the key for the leading duo.

He said: "People say in this league that anyone can beat any other team. Yet after 29 games Ipswich and Wigan have been beaten just five times.

"It's true at this stage of the season they are the two best teams in the division and to beat them is going to be a hard ask. It's all very well saying attack is the best form of defence.

"But I know Joe (Royle) is comfortable with whatever teams throw at his. If teams want to play football they will do that and they will mix it if need be.

"But I think we are comfortable with playing either way as well."

The Royals' manager admits that losing at home tomorrow in front of a near-capacity 24,600 crowd would severely dent their hopes of catching Town.

He said: "After this game we have 16 games left, which is still a third of the season. I genuinely believe if we get everyone fit and firing and raring to go we're capable of winning a batch of games.

"This match against Ipswich is not make or break but it is obviously more important for us than it is for them because are ahead of us."

Almost 23,000 tickets had been sold last night with 4,300 Town fans making the trip to the Madejski Stadium.

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