Coppell takes gamble on Lita loan

Last updated at 17:36 06 March 2008

Reading manager Steve Coppell admits his decision to send striker Leroy Lita out on a month's loan is a "calculated gamble".

The 23-year-old has joined Coca-Cola Championship promotion hopefuls Charlton until the end of March in the hope he can end a goal drought dating back to August.

That has left Coppell with just three recognised strikers in Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle and Shane Long for a month that will go a long way towards deciding whether Reading can maintain their Barclays Premier League status.

Coppell said: "It is a calculated risk. I have four strikers and in an ideal world all four of them would have been happy to stay and fight for their places.

"But they get frustrated and down and strikers do so more than any other

position. This was just a short-term solution. Whether it turns into a long-term one I doubt. We will wait and see what happens after 28 days.

"Four into two never fits. We have chatted about things and as a manager you ask them to be patient knowing that they won't be. I was fully aware of the way he was feeling and thought this was the best solution.

"People have been saying "you must have had an argument" but we haven't. It

is just a disagreement over my selection policy but I have got to be true to myself and do what I think is right.

"He will have a future back here if he scores goals. I won't have one if we

don't win games so that's an obvious answer."

Lita scored 14 goals last term as Reading finished their first top-flight

campaign one goal short of UEFA Cup qualification.

He then went on to star for the England Under-21 side in the European

Championship finals but since then an extra-time strike in a Carling Cup clash with League One Swansea represents his only goal in the current campaign.

Coppell has stuck by preferred first-choice pairing of Kitson and Doyle and

uses Long as an impact substitute.

Lita made his displeasure at being relegated to fourth choice known but Coppell

insisted the shortcomings of others did not represent a persuasive argument for


He said: "I said to him the only way he was going to get back in the team was

by impressing in training and reserve games.

"It should never be a process of "well, the people in the first team are

doing crap so I should be playing". It shouldn't be selection by omission."

Reading take on Manchester City at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday and a point

will be enough to lift them out of the bottom three.

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