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By ESPN Staff
Jul 15, 2006

Coppell thwarted in attempts to bolster squad

Reading manager Steve Coppell is disappointed so few players are willing to join his band of Premiership newcomers.

The Royals have been preparing for their top flight debut for months having romped to the Championship title in double quick time.

But Coppell's attempts to bolster his squad with a raft of new signings have seen just two new faces arrive at the Madejski Stadium so far - Wolves' South Korean midfielder Seol Ki-Hyeon and defender Sam Sodje from League one outfit Brentford.

He said: 'We finished our season last year ahead of everyone else and I thought that would give us a head start in trying to sign players but it was almost the opposite.

'As any newly-promoted club finds, it is difficult to acquire the players you want.

'And with this being a World Cup summer as well there were an awful lot of players we had targeted who were leaving their options open.

'In an ideal world I would have had new players in early but after a couple of weeks I realised it wouldn't be like that.

'We soon discovered we weren't really in a position to instigate transfers. We had to wait until other people had made their moves. So we will slip between the cracks and pick up what is left.'

Although this is Reading's first experience of life in the big time Coppell has already steered a medium-sized club through the choppy waters of the Premiership.

That was Crystal Palace in 1989 when the Eagles overcame a traumatic first few weeks, which saw them thrashed 9-0 at Liverpool, before ending the campaign as FA Cup finalists.

That was before the transfer window was introduced however so Coppell remains desperate to add to his current squad before it closes at the end of August.

He said: 'At Palace. it was a successful season only because we had the catalyst of the 9-0 defeat at Liverpool. It was in September and the chairman was wise enough to realise we had to make changes in order to survive and then compete.

'After the 9-0 we spent significant amounts of money, certainly for Crystal Palace. We acquired some fabulous players - Nigel Martyn, Andy Thorn and a whole batch of others who came in and transformed our season, culminating in the FA Cup final.

'That can't happen now because of the transfer window so we have to anticipate the weaknesses in the squad numerically and supplement it perhaps beyond where I am comfortable with just to make sure we are not exposed.

'Once the season starts we don't have access to loans or anything so you almost have to anticipate where you are going to have problems. It's impossible.

'The only way round that is to have a bigger squad than you need to make sure you are not exposed, because if we are then we are done for.'

The Royals began their pre-season warm-up campaign last night with a 9-1 demolition of tiny Didcot Town, who had actually taken an early lead.

Fit-again striker Leroy Lita, who had suffered a broken leg at Burnley in March, notched four, Shane Long netted twice and Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle and Brynyar Gunnarsson were also on the score-sheet.