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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 9, 2008

Coppell has faith players will beat the drop

Reading manager Steve Coppell maintains he still has faith in his players in their battle for Premier League survival at Derby this weekend.

The Royals' fate is no longer in their own hands following defeat at home by Tottenham last weekend as the winless run which has seen them plummet into the bottom three was extended to six games.

To be certain of survival, Reading, in the final relegation place on goal difference, need to beat relegated Derby and hope revitalised Fulham do not pick up maximum points at FA Cup finalists Portsmouth.

Even though Coppell must rely on a favour from Harry Redknapp's side, the Reading manager has every confidence in his own men.

'I have had faith in them, that still remains,' insisted Coppell, whose team finished a superb eighth in 2007 on their top-flight debut only to suffered from second-season syndrome this time around.

'We have got one game to achieve our ambition this year. If we do it, what a day it will be.'

Coppell - who chose not to significantly strengthen his squad during the January transfer window - is likely to recall attacking midfielder Marek Matejovsky to the side at Pride Park but winger Glen Little is rated as only 50/50 because of a calf problem.

'We might be more solid with other combinations in the team, but we have got to win and choose an attacking team,' said Coppell.

'There might be a couple of changes, not substantial. The core of the team has been the same.'

The likes of Stephen Hunt, England defender Nicky Shorey, Kevin Doyle, Dave Kitson, James Harper, record-signing Emerse Fae and American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann would all attract plenty of interest were Reading no longer able to offer Premier League football come August.

However, owner John Madejski, who bankrolled the Berkshire club's rise and their move to Reading's new stadium in 1998, believes the players owe it to the club to produce a fitting performance this weekend.

'If the status quo remains we will get relegated, so all we can do is play our hearts out for the sake of pride and professionalism,' Madejski said.

'We must win against Derby. Whether that will be enough to avoid relegation is in the lap of the gods, but at least we would be able to come out of it with some pride and dignity.

'The pressure is off us and on Fulham instead because they know they have got to win.

'Our destiny isn't in our hands any longer, but we need to perform for the pride of Reading Football Club and everybody associated with us.'