ROYALS manager Nigel Adkins has described Wayne Bridge’s injury as a ‘big blow.’

Bridge succumbed to a persistent knee problem last week and was forced to have an operation. The ex-England left-back is set to miss at least two months of the season while he recovers.

Royals look weak in that area having released Nicky Shorey and Ian Harte in the summer, forcing Adkins to play Stephen Kelly out of position to fill the void.

Adkins admitted: “It’s a big blow. He’s a talented player. He’s been really good, we were really excited to get him in the summer.

“We’ve been managing him for the past few weeks but he’ll be out for a few more weeks now, we just needed to tidy things up a bit.”

However, there is better news regarding Royston Drenthe and Danny Williams who could be available for Reading’s next league fixture away to Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, November 23.

The pair have been out for eight weeks but are now nearing full fitness.

But Jason Roberts, Mikele Leigertwood and Jem Karacan remain

long-term casualties.

“It’s a shame,” added Adkins. “If you look at players not available for us, Karacan was outstanding, we lost him in the Leeds game as well as Williams and Drenthe and it’s eight weeks for them now.

“He [Drenthe] has got to get fit, if you want to play football you’ve got to be fit. He hasn’t been on the pitch or trained for eight weeks.

“Ledge and Jason have been long term which is a shame because they’re good players and strong characters, especially in this division. Ledge will hopefully be back in full training soon.”

Danny Guthrie (groin) and Adam Le Fondre (hamstring) have also picked up knocks and are being assessed over the international break.

However, Southampton loan striker Billy Sharp has made a full recovery from a groin problem to boost Adkins’ options up front.

“He had a week on the training ground now he needs games,” stated Adkins.

** READING Under 21s will play QPR Under 21s in the Premier League U21 Cup at Madejski Stadium on Tuesday, November 26 (7pm ko).

Royals will be hoping for a big crowd for the clash as the tie must be settled on the night.

Fans can pay on the gate and entry costs £4 adults or £2 for U21s and Over 65s. Parking at the Madejski Stadium will be free.

Premier League U21 Cup South draw: Aston Villa v Fulham; Reading v QPR; Cardiff City v Chelsea; Exeter City v Southampton; Swansea City v Watford; Bristol City or Peterborough v West Ham; Norwich City v Arsenal.

Premier League U21 Cup North draw: Middlesbrough v Everton; Coventry or Notts County v Wolves; Blackburn v Derby or Hull; Stoke City v Manchester City; Bolton Wanderers v Barnsley; West Bromwich Albion v Nottingham Forest; Burnley v Sunderland; Leicester City v Sheffield Wednesday; Birmingham City v Newcastle United.

ROYALS U18 have been drawn away to Leeds United in the FA Youth Cup.

A date for the fixture is yet to be confirmed. **