Reading V Chelsea at Madejski Stadium - Match Preview

McDermott wary of Blues threat on the road

Manager Brian McDermott is under no illusions about the task his Reading side will face against Chelsea, even if the Blues did narrowly escape FA Cup embarrassment at the weekend.

Chelsea had looked set to be knocked out of the competition by npower League One side Brentford, only for Fernando Torres to spare their blushes with an equaliser.

Elimination would have been unthinkable for the west London club, who were Capital One Cup semi-final losers last week and have already surrendered their Champions League title.

As a result, it is already being reported that interim manager Rafael Benitez could be on borrowed time but, according to McDermott, Chelsea remain a team to be feared.

Since the Spaniard took over his players have excelled on the road - they have scored 23 times in two months - and McDermott knows the threat they will pose at the Madejski Stadium.

"If you look at Chelsea's away record under Rafa it is phenomenal," said McDermott, whose side are unbeaten in 2013.

"They have got a top manager who did fantastically well at Liverpool and also in Spain, and is now trying to work with that group of players at Chelsea. They are a fantastic team but they are not my business.

"You can look at their draw with Brentford but that's just what the cup is all about. Look what else happened at the weekend. Oldham beat Liverpool, (Aston) Villa went out and QPR were beaten at home.

"Chelsea are still in the cup and that's what matters."

McDermott will be without striker Jason Roberts against Chelsea owing to a hip problem, while Noel Hunt has an unspecified knock.

Daniel Carrico, a recent signing from Sporting, is unlikely to be involved as he adjusts to life in England.

Meanwhile, Benitez has admitted he does not think Chelsea will give him any more money to spend before the transfer window closes.

Interim Blues boss Benitez confirmed last week he had told owner Roman Abramovich that his squad was not strong enough to cope with the unprecedented fixture pile-up facing them this season.

But he appears to have given up hope of being allowed to add to the January signing of Demba Ba before Thursday's transfer deadline.

Asked if he anticipated any movement in the final 48 hours of the window, he said: "I don't think so but my job is to improve my squad and manage the situation we have."

Abramovich and the board's reluctance to back Benitez in the transfer market will reinforce the view that he has become a dead man walking at Stamford Bridge just over two months after succeeding Roberto Di Matteo.

It is understood there is currently no prospect of him losing his job before his contract expires this summer but reports persist that the club are already actively discussing replacing him next season.

Benitez shrugged off the speculation, which has included Everton boss David Moyes being linked with his job.

"My position is exactly the same," he said, confirming he had held talks with technical director Michael Emenalo in the wake of the draw at Brentford.

"I was speaking about football with Michael Emenalo, as normal.

"I will try to do my job as well as I can, and try to do my best every game."

For now, he must still do without Petr Cech, David Luiz, Eden Hazard, John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses ahead of the game at Reading.

The failure of Cech to recover from a calf problem is a particular blow considering Ross Turnbull's travails at Griffin Park on Sunday.

But Benitez backed Cech's understudy, saying: "When you're not playing too many games, it's always more difficult.

"It's a question of settling down. He's training well. We don't have an issue there."

Source: PA

Source: PA