JASON Roberts is praying the Football League will rescind his red card and allow him to play in Reading's last game of the season at Birmingham City this Saturday (12.30pm ko).
The 34-year-old title-winning striker could be facing a three-match ban following his sending off in Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Crystal Palace.
Roberts was shown a straight red by referee Andy D'Urso after elbowing Eagles defender Jonathan Parr in the face. But Royals' striker insists it was a complete accident.
"I kept my eye on the ball and there was no intention to hurt anybody whatsoever," declared Roberts, who became the first Reading player to be sent off this season.
"I was just trying to keep control of the situation so I'm bitterly disappointed and hopefully we will have a look at it again.
"I spoke to the Crystal Palace manager and players and they realised there was no intention. Maybe I did connect with their player but hopefully everyone understands there was no intention involved. Hopefully we can look at it and get it sorted out."
If Reading fail to win their appeal, Roberts will incur a three match ban ruling him out of the Birmingham City clash plus Reading's first two games in the Premier League next season. However, he has the total backing of promotion-winning manager Brian McDermott.
"It was a complete accident," argued McDermott. "I've spoken to Andy D'Urso and I'm sure once he sees it he'll realise it's a complete and utter accident and the card will hopefully be rescinded.
"Fair play to the referee, he said he's definitely going to look at it. I've seen it seven or eight times since and it was an honest mistake - nothing more than that.
"This is Jason Roberts you're talking about - there's no way he'd ever do anything like that deliberately.
"He was running for the ball, and if you're running you have to have your arms out. I've never run yet with my arms down by my side and he's looking at the ball all along.
"I've spoken to their player, he realises it's an accident, Dougie (Freedman) realises it's an accident. He caught their player in the face, but those things happen every day of the week in football. And it was clearly a complete accident."
Roberts says the incident failed to take the gloss off an historic day when McDermott's men were crowned Championship champions.
Their 2-2 draw with Palace at home proved to be enough to secure top spot as chief rivals Southampton lost at Middlesbrough in the evening kick off.
"It hasn't take the gloss off anything for me," stressed the former Blackburn Rovers and Wigan Athletic frontman. "You could see from the reaction of the players that this has never been about one person.
"They showed that in the second half on Saturday. It was a great performance to come out for the second half with 10 men, score and run Palace so close."
Meanwhile, Reading's players will have to wait until Sunday to get their hands on the Championship trophy.
The Football League's health and safety policy prevents them from lifting the trophy at the end of Saturday's final league game at Birmingham City.
Now, the trophy will be presented at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday at the end of the club's open-top bus parade.
The Chronicle-sponsored official Player of the Season will also be announced.
For more details turn to the front page.
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