Murray Faces Fitness Race Ahead Of Derby Clash

Last updated : 27 January 2004 By Rob Cooper
The 29-year-old right-winger, who scored the only goal of the game as the Royals defeated Nottingham Forest eleven days ago, is struggling for fitness ahead of this weekend's crucial clash with relegation-threatened Derby.

The Royals go into the game knowing that win against the Rams could close the leapable four-point gap between then and sixth placed Wigan.

Yet, as time goes by, fears about Scott Murray's availability for the game grow and grow. The ex-Bristol City man is rated as 'touch and go' by Royals physio Jon Fearn for Saturday's match.

Speaking to the official site, Fearn revealed: "Scott is about 60% recovered. He can run and sprint but he's not got the power to kick the ball properly right now. He's just training with me to get his power up. It's going to be close for Saturday."

Otherwise, the Royals have a virtually fully-fit squad to choose from, Nicky Forster being the only other minor injury doubt.

Steve Brown and Adie Williams who have recently spent spells on the sidelines, will have benefited from the fact that the Royals had no game last weekend. The same goes for Marcus Hahnemann. The big American, who has been widely-ostracised this season having failed to live up to the standards he set himself last year, has been struggling with a back injury in recent weeks so should appreciate the rest.

Meanwhile, Derby County have taken two strikers on trial. Ex-Rangers forward Marco Negri and former Coventry frontman Noel Whelan have both joined the club on a short term basis. However, the Rams will be unable to field the duo on Saturday as they must pen a permanent deal before kicking a 'competitive' ball for the Midlands side.

Elsewhere George Burley has bolstered his squad ahead of the Madejski Stadium clash, capturing Everton midfielder Leon Osman on loan.