Coppell to shun foreign market during window

January 12, 2007

Reading intend to recruit only British-based players to the Madejski Stadium while the current transfer window remains open.

The Royals already have a cosmopolitan squad with internationals from USA, South Korea, Iceland and Nigeria battling for places with team-mates from England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

A number of players have been linked with a January switch to a side that has surprised many by ending 2006 in a top-10 spot, with West Brom striker Diomansy Kamara claiming there had been interest.

Manager Steve Coppell wants to add only homegrown players however, with Colchester's highly-rated full-back Greg Halford a target.

Director of football Nick Hammond confirmed: 'It is almost guaranteed there will be no signings from abroad. There's a time of adjustment when players come in from overseas.

'If you sign a player now and want them to affect the first team then they need to be up and running. So it's more likely to be players from over here. That remains the case unless someone becomes available that we're well aware of. It's unlikely but you never know.'

Coppell has also welcomed back Dave Kitson from injury, with the striker's appearance as a second-half substitute in Tuesday's 3-2 FA Cup victory over Burnley his first since injuring a knee on the opening day of the season.

Winger Bobby Convey also returned from a knee injury in that match and the first-team pool has also had Simon Cox added to it after the 19-year-old ended a loan spell at League One strugglers Brentford.

All indications are therefore that Coppell is happy with the size of his squad with the only space available for an experienced defender.

Hammond added: 'The speculation is rife and there are all sorts of crazy rumours but the manager and I are clear with what we want to do. The January window is a strange one and you need to be clear and sensible. If a sensible move that improves the squad becomes available we'll try to do it.'

Getting midfielder Steve Sidwell to commit himself to a new contract is more of a priority and the former Arsenal man, whose current deal expires at the end of the season, can already talk to clubs outside England.

Sidwell has already turned down two offers which would have made him the club's best-rewarded player but Hammond was confident a third might do the trick.

He said: 'Conversations are continuing and I think we're at the stage where we'll go back to Steve with another position from us, taking into account where we are at this moment. I'm very hopeful he will look at all the criteria and then make the decision to stay.

'We hope we can reach a solution, and it's important for him to see we're moving forward. We can compete in the Premiership and we have the ambition to bring players who can do even more so he knows our intent.'

Reading are back in Premiership action at Everton on Sunday in a televised lunchtime kick-off. The Toffees won the reverse fixture 2-0 a couple of days before Christmas with Andrew Johnson particularly impressive.

Winger Glen Little warned: 'We know him well from his Crystal Palace days. He always seems to play well against us, especially in the two games against them last season.

'He's a dangerous player with a lot of pace. We simply haven't coped with him well enough in the past and I'm sure it's something the defence is looking at.'