READING FC could be ready to launch a bid to sign Southampton striker Rickie Lambert.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins is believed to be preparing an audacious swoop for the 31-year-old talisman who played under him at St Mary's.
Lambert, valued at around �8 million, has bagged an impressive 93 goals in 170 league appearances for the Saints and former manager Adkins is keen to bring him to the Madejski Stadium to boost his side's firepower.
Reading are a little light in the striking department going into the Championship campaign as Noel Hunt has switched for Brian McDermott's Leeds United and Jason Roberts will miss the start of the season as he recovers from long-term injury.
However, reports suggest Saints will only consider selling Lambert if they land �18m Brazilian international Leandro Damiao.
Nevertheless, Adkins admits he is eager to strengthen his attack, with Celtic's Gary Hooper, Burnley's Charlie Austin and Lambert's Southampton team-mate Billy Sharp other possible targets.
He said: "I look at the goals we've scored in pre-season and some of the pace and togetherness in the team.
"We look strong in what we've got, obviously there will always be talk of 'can we add and keep strengthening' because that's what we've got to do.
"But you can see out there we've got players who put in good performances. I'm really pleased with the level of fitness."
He added: "Like all clubs we'll be no different and want to keep improving. The important thing now is that we're improving the players we've got.
"We have good competition for places, everyone wants to be involved, they know it's not about 11 players but a desire to be successful.
"We want to be a fit and mobile side, you need that in the modern game. From an athletic point of view I want us to control, pass it and move into spaces. It's a progressive pre-season and progressive throughout the season as well. We want to start strong and build through the season."
Adkins' first-team squad rounded off their pre-season trip to Portugal with a comprehensive 5-1 win over top-flight side Olhanense last Friday night.
It looked like being a long night on the Algarve for the tourists when they fell behind to an early Joao Goncalves goal.
But Adam Le Fondre equalised on the half-hour mark before Kaspars Gorkss put Adkins' men 2-1 in front at the break.
Royals dominated the game from there on with Royston Drenthe, Garath McCleary and Jordan Obita all finding the net in the second half.
Adkins revealed a change of tactics during the game certainly helped his side: "Early on we thought 'we've got a game on here' because they were looking really tasty," he conceded.
"We changed formation with our three in midfield. They stepped up well and we controlled the game.
"We scored two good goals in the first half, then in the second half the lads demonstrated a great level of fitness and ability to keep the ball. Some of the goals we scored were great, we scored five and could have scored more. We wanted to pass and move the ball.
"We've come away with a good victory but I look at the performance and way the players kept working for each other. It rounds off what's been a good week away from home."
Royals also drew 1-1 with Portuguese side Belenenses last week, Le Fondre grabbing a late leveller.
Reading's next friendly is at Bristol City tonight (Wednesday, 7.45pm ko) followed by a clash against Premier League Swansea City at Madejski Stadium this Saturday (3pm ko).