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By ESPN Staff

Royals sign defensive duo Halford and Bennett

Reading have completed the signing of Colchester defender Greg Halford and Cork centre-back Alan Bennett, for undisclosed fees.

The 22-year-old has agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract with the Barclays Premiership club, keeping him at the Madejski Stadium until the summer of 2010.

The versatile Halford, an England Under-20 international, scored 24 goals in his 163 appearances for the Layer Road club.

Royals director of football Nick Hammond told his club's official website: 'I am extremely pleased with this signing - we have beaten off competition from a number of clubs to bring Greg to Reading.

'He is an outstanding talent and a typical 'Reading' signing - young, hungry and with the ability to become an even better player than he already is.

'With the help of our coaching staff, we hope that Greg can realise his considerable potential during his time at Reading.'

Chairman John Madejski added: 'Greg has been a highly sought-after talent and the fact that Reading have been able to secure his services demonstrates how far we have progressed as a club.

'He is a highly talented player who will be a great addition to our squad, and I would like to welcome him warmly to our club.'

Earlier in the day Reading completed the signing of centre-back Alan Bennett from Cork for an undisclosed fee.

The former Republic of Ireland under-21 international has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract to commit to the Royals to the end of the 2008/9 season, following fellow Irishmen Shane Long and Kevin Doyle in moving to the Madejski Stadium from the eircom League club.

Reading chairman John Madejski said: 'I would like to welcome Alan to Reading Football Club, and would like to thank everybody for the great effort put in to secure his signature.

'He joins at a tremendously exciting time and we wish him all the very best for his career with us.'

With the Irish season running from March to November, 25-year-old Bennett arrives after a week of pre-season training with the Rebels.

His signing came too late for him to be considered for Wednesday's Premiership clash with Wigan.