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Plenty of Decisions for Magilton for Reading Visit
Plenty of Decisions for Magilton for Reading Visit
Friday, 12th Sep 2008 12:10

Town boss Jim Magilton will again have to decide which members of his squad to disappoint when Reading visit Portman Road on Saturday. Striker Jon Stead could make his Blues debut having signed on loan from Sheffield United last Monday.

The summer spending has given Magilton significant options all over the field, although the backline appears to all but pick itself at present. Moritz Volz is likely to continue at right-back, with David Wright having made only one reserves appearance since his ankle ligament injury.

Skipper Gareth McAuley and Richard Naylor will be at the centre of the defence with Ben Thatcher on the left. Alex Bruce serves the final game of his three-match suspension.

It's in midfield where Magilton has the widest choice, particularly for the central positions. David Norris has looked increasingly impressive in the last two reserve games and may get the nod if Magilton feels the former Plymouth man's fitness is up to it. Norris could come into a central midfield position – the role he occupied at Colchester in the reserves in midweek – probably in place of Tommy Miller.

Similarly, Iván Campo still looked short of match fitness at Colchester, despite having started for the first team against Watford a fortnight ago. The Spaniard could drop out, making way for either Veliche Shumulikoski or Owen Garvan, both of whom impressed while away on international duty this week.

Magilton may decide to use the 4-1-2-1-2 formation employed most notably in the Carling Cup game against Colchester earlier in the season, with one of Campo, Garvan or Shumulikoski in the deeper midfield role. If so, Liam Trotter could take up the other midfield position with Pablo Couñago behind a front two of Jon Walters and either Jon Stead or Kevin Lisbie.

Against Colchester in the cup tie Walters later switched to his right-sided midfield role as the side switched to 4-4-2. Walters was suffering with a stomach bug earlier in the week, but is expected to be fine to face the Royals.

New signing Stead feels the Town side have shown on the training field that they are capable of creating the opportunities which will enable him to score regularly: "I know my job is to score the goals and from what I have seen of Ipswich on the training ground this week chances will be created.

"And if so it will be my job to put them away. I was well aware that my chances at Sheffield United were limited and that it was time to play somewhere else and to be part of a team rather than a squad.

"I am delighted to be here and the dream would be topped off with a goal tomorrow. I know that I will be judged on my goal output, but the main thing for the team against Reading is to collect three points.”

The Royals, currently sixth with a draw and a defeat on their travels so far, have one or two injuries as they go into Saturday's game. Central defender Michael Duberry has a calf problem and won't be fit for a couple of weeks, while Marek Matejovsky has an ankle injury, Kalifa Cisse a toe problem, Bryn Gunnarsson a torn knee ligament and Sam Sodje has played only one reserve game, also after a knee injury.

Captain Graeme Murty is back after a calf problem but Saturday's game comes too soon for him and he has been ruled out, while midfielder Jem Karacan is likely to be OK after a back problem.

Manager Steve Coppell says he is likely to stick with the team which won 4-2 at Crystal Palace a fortnight ago, but admits he is unsure precisely who his team might be up against: "We have had four games in the division and their team has changed an awful lot, even in those games.

"They have brought players in like Volz, Campo and Stead on loan and Couñago has come back and Lee's gone.

"There is quite a significant change so the team that plays against us will be totally different to the team that started the season, so it's difficult to take anything from their first four matches.

"I will more than likely stick to the same side as the one that played against Palace."

If that's the case, Marcus Hahnemann would be in goal behind a defence of Liam Rosenior, former Norwich loanee and scorer of an own goal in last season's Portman Road derby Alex Pearce, Hermann Hreidarsson's close friend Ivar Ingimarsson and reported Town summer target Chris Armstrong, who joined the Royals just prior to the transfer window's closure.

In midfield, Coppell will employ Jimmy Kebe, James Harper, Stephen Hunt and Jem Karacan with Kevin Doyle – scorer of a hat-trick against Palace - and Shane Long up front.

Town have just about had the better of the Royals historically, the Blues winning 19 encounters (including the only cup meeting between the sides) and Reading 14 with eight matches ending in draws.

The teams last met in 2005/06 when Steve Coppell's men did the double over the team then managed by Joe Royle. At the Madejski Stadium a Richard Naylor own goal and one from Kevin Doyle gave the home side a 2-0 victory, while at Portman Road Doyle netted the third in a 3-0 win with Steve Sidwell and Leroy Lita having scored the earlier goals.

No current Town player has spent time with Reading, while no Royal is a previous Blue. However, Reading's Chelmsford-born midfielder James Harper has friends who are Town fans and has gone to chat with them at the front of the North Stand at the final whistle on his previous visits to Portman Road.

TWTD will not be on sale at the game, but there still some copies of issue 93 available by post either as part of a six-issue subscription or as an individual copy here.

Saturday's referee is Keith Hill from Hertfordshire, who has shown nine yellow and no red cards in his two games this season, eight in one and one in the other. Hill's last Town game was the 2-0 defeat at Leicester on Boxing Day last year in which he booked Dan Harding and Gavin Williams as well as two Foxes players.

Likely squad: R Wright, Supple, Volz, Thatcher, D Wright. Balkestein, McAuley, Naylor, Smith, Campo, Garvan, Shumulikoski, Norris, Miller, Trotter, Walters, Haynes, Quinn, Couñago, Lisbie, Stead.

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