Coppell Casts Net Out Far In Bid To Bolster Squad

Last updated : 06 January 2004 By Rob Cooper
Free agent Zeljko Popovic, a six foot one inch left back, will today play for the Royals at Rushden in a reserve team friendly as he bids to win a contract with the First Division outfit.

The former Besiktas trialist, who has been training with the Reading squad all week, will line-up for the Royals alongside new-signing Dave Kitson as he attempts to woo boss Steve Coppell who is now scouring Europe in search of players to put on a show at the Madejski Stadium.

Coppell, who has made four signings since arriving at the club in October, is looking in particular to add cover to the full-back areas with little to no cover for Nicky Shorey, Graeme Murty and utility man Ricky Newman.

Bringing in Popovic, a 23-year-old with an apparently bright future in the game, looks promising. He could potentially provide decent cover for first team players and would be available comparatively cheaply.

Indeed, the £25,000 raised from the sale of Darius Henderson, as well as the money which will be brought in from John Mackie's imminent departure, should fund the addition of Popovic and at least one other player.

Kevin Watson, another player who could be affected by the recent transfer dealings, also plays at Rushden today, as does out of favour flair player Omar Daley.

Today's Reserve Team: J Young, L Soares, G Middleton, I Ingimarsson, Z Popovic, K Watson, A Boucaud, O Daley, J Salako, D Kitson, D Morgan

Bench: A Rifat, S Howell, M Noto