Sun, Nov 12, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Coppell's Reading in need of quick confidence boost

AFP , READING, ENGLAND

Reading manager Steve Coppell is facing a crisis of confidence ahead of today's visit of rejuvenated Tottenham to the Madejski Stadium.

After a positive start to their first ever season in the English Premiership, Reading have had the rug pulled out from under them, losing four matches in a row.

And Coppell, the former Crystal Palace boss, is far from confident that the visit of Tottenham, and their in-form strike pairing of Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov, will present his team with a realistic opportunity of ending that run.

"I could say I'm confident our losing run will come to an end but I'm not," admitted Coppell. "There are an awful lot of ifs -- if we play well, if we do our jobs, if we don't relax at any time, if we take inspiration from the crowd."

"We are not falsely positive. We are realistic -- we have been playing good teams and we're playing one [today]," he said.

Reading started the season with four wins from their first seven games and were flying high but then ran into some of the Premiership's big guns, losing to Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and high-flying Portsmouth in their last four games.

Tottenham by contrast had a disastrous start.

Having come so close to earning a tilt at Champions League football last season, Spurs were hoping to stride on from there and possibly even challenge for the title.

But four points from their opening six matches put paid to any dillusions of grandeur.

Tottenham have recovered, though, winning three and drawing two of their next five, including a 2-1 upset of Chelsea last weekend.

They now sit 10th in the league, two points and two places above their hosts.

And they have been boosted by the news that six of their players were called up by England coach Steve McClaren for Wednesday's friendly against the Netherlands, including center-back Michael Dawson.

"I don't think there are a lot of players like him. He is honest and he's good for other players," said Spurs boss Martin Jol. "He's so fit for a big lad and he's enjoying himself and that's probably an advantage. He's very important for us and he's a very good character."

Both sides are beset by injury problems.

Reading will be missing US winger Bobby Convey along with Dave Kitson, Peter Mate, Aaron Brown and Simon Cox.

Tottenham's Pascal Chimbonda and Mido are likely to join Teemu Tainio, Calum Davenport, Anthony Gardner and Paul Stalteri on the sidelines but Steed Malbranque and Hossam Ghaly should be fit.

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