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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Feb 15, 2007

Reading boss rejects Cup disrespect claims

Reading manager Steve Coppell insists he is showing the FA Cup no disrespect by picking reserves for Saturday's televised clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

The former United winger has made it clear he will make up to eight changes from the side that beat Aston Villa 2-0 in the Premiership last week.

Coppell's argument was that the club's first top-flight league campaign was of such importance he decided before a ball was kicked he would use fringe men for cup games regardless of the opposition.

Reading are already safe from the relegation many pundits had earmarked them for but Coppell insisted he would stand by his policy even if they went all the way to Wembley.

He said: 'I will make seven or eight changes from my last team, definitely, and I make no apologies for saying once again that we play a cup final every week in the Premiership.

'It doesn't matter to me who the opposition are - if anything I will learn more against this sort of opposition. I want to know whether the (fringe) players can cope with the level and perform at the level.

'It is not any disrespect to the competition or the opposition. I am being selfish - I am just looking at it from my point of view.

'Reading fans understand 100 per cent my thought processes. I care about the integrity of the competition very much but from June I knew that this was what I was going to do and I'm not going to change that.

'I'm not disrespecting the competition because I have been consistent. And it is nothing to do with trying to protect those who played in the last league game, no way.

'It would be disrespectful of me among the playing squad if I were to change now. I never made them any promises - I can do what I like - but I just decided that this was what I was going to do and it doesn't diminish our desire to try to win the game.

'I would do exactly the same before the semi-final and the final - although I think I would wake up (from the dream) some time before then.'

In any case, Reading's reserve side is one of the best in the country as it is currently top of its league, ahead of Chelsea and Arsenal, and thrashed Spurs 4-0 on Tuesday night.

Coppell has a number of full internationals available to slot in for Premiership regulars including Seol Ki-Hyeon (South Korea), Bobby Convey (USA), Brynjar Gunnarsson (Iceland), Ulises de la Cruz (Ecuador), John Oster (Wales) and Sam Sodje (Nigeria).

Strikers Dave Kitson and Kevin Doyle, who contributed almost 40 goals between them last season, are back in contention following injury and Coppell will start with just one out-and-out rookie in the shape of goalkeeper Adam Federici, who will be playing his third game for the Royals.

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