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Four-goal Faris dreams of AFC Cup final

By ESPN Staff

Pearce tips Royals to avoid the drop

Stuart Pearce has tipped Reading to survive their maiden Premiership campaign.

The Royals cruised to the Championship title last term, yet, like all newly-promoted sides, began the new campaign with many pundits expecting them to go straight back down.

However, an opening-day comeback win over Middlesbrough proved Steve Coppell's men will not give up their coveted top-flight status without a fight.

While narrow away defeats at Aston Villa and Wigan mean Reading have not picked up a point since, just a draw against Manchester City at the Madejski Stadium tonight will be enough to lift them back into the top half.

And Pearce for one believes it would be no surprise if they stayed well clear of danger for the remainder of the campaign.

'They have enough to stay up,' said the former England skipper.

'Previously, teams coming up seemed to feel it was more or less definite they would go straight back down but, over the last couple of years, the situation has changed.

'I have seen a lot of Reading because they are the closest club to where I live. They have a Premiership set-up in terms of stadium and training ground but they are also a very good footballing side with lots of quality.'

It is fairly obvious one of the players Pearce most admires is Steve Sidwell, given the City chief came close to signing the former Arsenal trainee this summer.

'I did bid for Steve,' said the City chief.

'I think it says a lot about how highly Reading regard him that even though he is in the last year of his contract, they continued to say, `No, no, no'.

'I did my homework on him and felt he would be a real asset. But, as with any negotiations, you enter them with your fingers crossed hoping everything goes right.'

Unfortunately for Pearce, on this occasion they did not, although, in bringing in eight new players, the City boss did not waste any time reflecting on what might have been.

One of the new faces, Dietmar Hamann, is set to make his debut after finally recovering from the foot problem picked up during the pre-season tour of China.

Although there were few optimistic noises from the City support this summer, last month's win over Arsenal has fuelled belief within the Eastlands camp and victory - which would be only the Blues' second success on the road since the beginning of December - would catapult them into seventh spot.