Royals Go Through Their Paces

Last updated : 04 August 2003 By Rob Cooper
The players in action in training today
The players in action in training today
With just five days to go until the season gets underway, the Royals held an open training session at the Madejski Stadium today.

A crowd of approximately 1,000 was present to watch the squad sweat it out in the scorching sunlight. Fans could reguarly be seen flitting off to the concourses to purchase fizzy drinks, extortionately priced at £1.50.

One large bald steward was spotted slapping sun tan lotion onto his round head which glistened in the sunlight in an effort to stave off the sun burn.

On the pitch, Shaun Goater was in action at the Mad Stad for the first time and showed some impressive touches, hinting at what he has to come once the season gets underway.

Steve Brown and Ricky Newman, who have both suffered from knee injuries recently, completed a full training session under the watchful eyes of Alan Pardew and Kevin Dillon. The duo will be available for Saturday's game at Ipswich.

Nicky Forster, another recent injury victim, was looking sharp. Many will expect another prolific campaign from the 29-year-old. However Marc Edworthy, a player who was on trial with Reading last week, was not present. It is reported that Alan Pardew has ended his interest in the experienced defender.

For just over an hour Pardew did some shooting practice with the attackers. Alarmingly, the vast majority of the forward's shots went wide or were easily saved by goalkeeper Jamie Ashdown.

Anxious fans will hope the team have their shooting boots on at the weekend.

Whilst that was going on, in the centre of the pitch, assistant boss Kevin Dillon ran a 'closing down of the ball' session with the rest of the squad.

Towards the end the squad played a short Reserves v First Team match which ended all square at 2-2. Darius Henderson, who is expected to this week go out on loan to a Second Division side, scored twice for the reserves.

The first team lined up in a 4-4-2 formation. Andy Hughes on the left wing, whilst Shaun Goater partnered Nicky Forster up front, perhaps hinting at what we can expect to see at Ipswich.

With the training session complete, Pardew chose to anger the groundsman and invite the fans onto the field. Originally it had been planned by those in authority that the players would do autographs on the concourses. But with fans and players alike feeling the heat, Pards allowed happy kids to enter the field.

Many of the little troublemakers, on their school holidays, tripped and bundled over one another as they raced onto the playing surface towards their heroes.

All in all it was a successful, but hot, training session.