Pardew excited by new strike force

WITH the amount of fire-power on show today a feast of goals is widely anticipated and Reading boss Alan Pardew is banking on his strike force winning the day.

WITH the amount of fire-power on show today a feast of goals is widely anticipated and Reading boss Alan Pardew is banking on his strike force winning the day, writes Derek Davis.

He splashed out £500,000 for Shaun Goater from Manchester City and £650,000 for Scott Murray from Bristol City, both proven finishers.

The Royals managed just 61 goals last season and Pardew is hoping he has rectified that problem.

He said: “I feel we have one of the most fearsome partnerships up front in Nicky Forster and Shaun - on paper.

“I think it will be a dangerous partnership that can punish teams.

“Shaun's been with us a week but nailing the tactics down was never an issue.

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“I have changed the structure of the team in a day and a half before, and we have had a full week to work on things.

“However, until we go out there I won't know what the balance of the side is like.

“And when we start the season I will have to make a quick decision within five or six games.

“But pre-season has gone well. The main priority is everyone is fit. Myself, Jon Fearn (physio) and Niall Clark (sports scientist) have worked hard on that and our record with injuries since they came is fantastic.”

Pardew is looking to add to his two new signings, with Birmingham City defender Michael Johnson his next target.

“I have gone for quality not quantity with our signings. I have taken a calculated gamble with the threat of injuries as we have a small squad and I hope it pays off.”

Reading will be hoping for more joy than they had in the first game of last season when they were beaten 3-0 at Derby County's Pride Park.

Pardew said: “I think Ipswich will be one of the strongest sides in the division. They have lost a couple of players, but Joe Royle is a good manager and they will be among the favourites.

“Last season we played Derby, who were basically a Premiership side, but we are better equipped this time and we have the ability to get a result at Ipswich.”

Murray, another of Royals' new signings, has been with the club for a month and has therefore had time to settle in.

And he insists he is feeling fitter and stronger than ever.

The 29-year-old said: “Pre-season has gone well. It's been hard work and I have done a lot of weights which I've never really done before and I feel stronger than ever.

“Now I can't wait for tomorrow. It is a very big game for everyone and hopefully we can get the win and get a good start to the season.”

Central defender Steve Brown has fully recovered from his knee injury and should come in for John Mackie to partner skipper Adie Williams. The only players he will be without are Darius Henderson, who has joined Brighton on loan, Joe Gamble, who is on loan at Barnet and Nathan Tyson, who faces the first of a two-match suspension for his sending off in the first leg of Royals' play-off semi-final defeat by Wolves at Molineux last season.

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