Coppell's defensive concerns

Reading boss hits out at long-haul trips for duo

Steve Coppell: International concerns for Reading boss

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Steve Coppell is concerned Reading's defence will be weakened by the long-haul international demands facing Ulises de la Cruz and Andre Bikey this week.

Ecuador full-back de la Cruz faces a trip to Quito to tackle Bolivia while Cameroon centre-back Bikey must journey to Japan for a midweek friendly encounter ahead of Reading's Premier League clash at Bolton on Saturday.

Coppell joked he would prefer his players to stay at home for "shepherd's pie with the missus", although he accepts losing key men to the far side of the world is now part and parcel of the global game.

Difficult

The former England winger will not be taking in any midweek matches and said: "I don't go to watch international games. I'm going to see my mum.

"We've got 10 international players away this week and we've acquired players at Reading from afar because of our particular transfer market.

"De la Cruz is going to Quito, which is the highest ground in the world, I believe, and Bikey is going to Tokyo.

"They are proud to play for their countries but as much as we like to comply with the international rulings regarding dates, those games are difficult for English clubs to accept.

"We have got to get them to Bolton for next Saturday which is a major logistical problem.

"The Cameroon squad are flying back from Japan to France, I think, but why bother with 24 hours in the air, an eight-hour time difference and the different food when you can stay at home and have shepherd's pie with the missus?"