No Number Nine?

Last updated : 12 July 2003 By Rob Cooper
Speculation continues to mount about who will be next in through the Madejski Stadium door, with a striker believed to be Alan Pardew's main priority.

A not-so-veiled hint was given by Reading Football Club yesterday when they announced their new list of squad numbers for the 2003-04 season - with no number nine.

Martin Butler, who featured very little in the closing months of our last campaign, has been stripped of the number nine shirt only to be given sixteen instead, Phil Parkinson's old number.

So who will our new striker be, if we get one at all? David Connolly looked set to move to Reading after the Royals agreed a fee for the Irishman's services. However, there has been no movement on that front for almost two weeks now, hinting perhaps the deal is dying.

Geoff Horsfield, Shaun Goater, Bobby Zamora and Paulo DiCanio have all been linked with moves to Reading and would be prime candidates to fill the number nine jersey.

Meanwhile, the new list of squad numbers threw up several other interesting changes. First choice goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann will next season wear the number one jersey following the departure of previous Reading hero Phil Whitehead.

Steve Brown, signed from Charlton in January, inherits Adi Viveash's number five shirt, whilst new signing Scott Murray will wear number seven. Shirt number twelve is uninhabited, whilst Steve Sidwell will wear number fourteen, which formerly belonged to Sammy Igoe.

Up and coming star Andre Boucard, currently on loan at Peterborough, has been given the number eighteen shirt, perhaps suggesting Alan Pardew expects big things from him this season.

The List In Full:

1) Marcus Hahnemann
2) Graeme Murty
3) Nicky Shorey
4) Kevin Watson
5) Steve Brown
6) John Mackie
7) Scott Murray
8) Adie Williams
10) Nicky Forster
11) Andy Hughes
14) Steve Sidwell
15) James Harper
16) Martin Butler
17) John Salako
18) Andre Boucard
19) Joe Gamble
20) Bas Savage
21) Jamie Ashdown
22) Nathan Tyson
24) Darius Henderson
25) Ricky Newman
26) Jamie Young
27) Darren Campbell
28) Ahmet Rifat