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By ESPN Staff

Coppell seeks cure for Reading's second half woe

Reading manager Steve Coppell has no idea why his side keep letting in goals straight after half-time.

The Royals travel to Portsmouth tomorrow having climbed out of the relegation places last week thanks to a 2-1 win over Wigan.

That had featured an unwanted equaliser five minutes after the restart and the midweek Carling Cup clash with Liverpool saw Fernando Torres netting at an identical time to set up a 4-2 win.

Bolton, West Ham and Sunderland had also set up victories with early second half strikes and in Reading's first Premier League home fixture Chelsea scored twice in that period and won 2-1.

Coppell admitted he was desperate to end the sequence at Fratton Park but honest enough to add he had no real inkling of how it might be done.

He said: 'It is something we are very aware of but it is almost something where the more you talk about it the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

'We have mentioned it probably during every half-time and it is probably mentioned in every dressing room in the country - keep it tight first five or 10 minutes.

'We haven't done that but there can be no specific plan apart from just camping in your own goalmouth and you can't be ultra-defensive for 10 minutes.

'So we are aware of it but I don't think there is a great deal we can do about it. Half-time is half-time. You have 12 or 14 minutes to get messages across and for the players to recover. There is not much you can do but I'm open to ideas.'

Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth side also won last weekend, with a 1-0 success at Blackburn lifting them into mid-table.

Coppell identified veterans Kanu and Sol Campbell as the most important individuals in an expensively-assembled side that came through their own Carling Cup assignment in midweek, winning 1-0 at Burnley.

He said: 'Harry usually signs good players. Other people might judge them to be past their sell-by dates but they are still good players and of an age to contribute fully - the Kanus and the Campbells.

'These people are terrific footballers and he obviously gets the right mood and motivation amongst them to extend at the top level their performances.

'Those two players are probably the backbone of the team. Kanu has been terrific this year, scoring goals and creating goals.

'Campbell is just a top player. In his case he is going to be at the top level for as long as he wants to.'

Bobby Convey is injured for Reading, joining Glen Little, John Oster and Ibrahima Sonko on the sidelines.