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By ESPN Staff

Reading to step up interest in Irish defender

Reading are set to step up their interest in Cork City defender Alan Bennett after Ibrahima Sonko suffered a knee injury during Saturday's fiery 3-1 victory over Sheffield United.

Royals have already made a bid of around £100,000 for the 25-year-old Irish centre back which was turned down but manager Steve Coppell is believed to be ready to go back with an improved offer of around £200,000.

Coppell is also thought to be looking at Luton Town's Leon Barnett with a view to signing him before the closure of the January transfer window on Tuesday next week.

Powerful defender Sonko, who left Madejski Stadium on crutches, after suffering his injury in the first half against Sheffield United, is waiting for the results of a scan but it is feared he has suffered medial-ligament damage to his right knee and could be out of action for up to a month.

Striker Dave Kitson, who was hoping to make his Premiership comeback after being out with knee trouble since the opening game of the season, strained a thigh muscle in the warm-up and had to be replaced on the substitutes' bench.

Reading are also awaiting the results of a scan on him.

Coppell told the Reading Evening Post: 'Kits was just pinging a ball in the warm-up and pulled a muscle.'

Left back Nicky Shorey also missed Saturday's game after going down with food poisoning but will be back for Saturday's FA Cup fourth round clash at Birmingham City.

But Reading still have 10-goal striker Kevin Doyle and defender Brynjar Gunnarsson sidelined with hamstring injuries.