Supersub Alfie in line for rare Reading FC start
Published: 26 Apr 2012 07:300 comments
Royals' leading goalscorer is set to make a rare start at St Andrew's while Jason Roberts begins a three-match ban.
Roberts became the first Reading player sent off this season when he was red carded for violent conduct in last Saturday's 2-2 home draw with Crystal Palace.
The club decided not to appeal the decision meaning Roberts will miss this weekend's trip to the Midlands plus the first two games in the Premier League next season.
As a result, Le Fondre is likely to go straight into the team for what would be his first start since the shock FA Cup defeat by Stevenage in early January.
The Rotherham United signing said: "Hopefully I will start this Saturday but it's the gaffer's decision. If I don't then hopefully I can come off the bench and score again.
"That would be a great way to finish the season for me. There will be a lot of celebrations after the game but the most important thing is that we approach it properly and try and win the match.
"We're unbeaten in April and we want to finish the month like that. It's also only right that we try our hardest on the day because of what it means to other clubs.
"There will be a lot of our fans up there and a real carnival atmosphere so hopefully we can give them the right result to end what has been an incredible season for everybody."
Le Fondre's goal against Crystal Palace on Saturday took his tally to 12 for the season including five in his last five appearances, all of which came as a substitute.
He stepped off the bench to grab a late brace at St Mary's Stadium a fortnight ago when Reading defeated Southampton 3-1 to climb to the top of the Championship table, a position they would not relinquish from there on.
And the pint-sized predator also netted twice in the last seven minutes against Leeds United to earn his side a critical victory in a bad-blooded clash at Madejski Stadium recently.
By his own admission, Le Fondre is far from happy at having made only 17 starts this season. But his 12 goals have been crucial to Reading's success, none more so than Reading's second against Palace that delivered the point needed to clinch the Championship title.
"I said to Alfie that he might possibly have to get us into the Premier League from the bench and he was fine with that," declared McDermott. " And he's done that.
"He came on and scored a great header from a good cross from Noel Hunt on the weekend. He's a good goalscorer, as an impact player off the bench and as a starter. He will always score goals.
"We've been lucky with the substitutions we've made this season. But after they've been made, it comes down to the quality of the players and Alfie did really well when he came on."
The only disappointment for Royals on Saturday was the sending off of Roberts. The 34-year-old striker will be banned for the next three matches, carrying over into the Premier League next season.
Nevertheless, Roberts cannot wait to lead Royals to success in the top flight having made the bold move to leave Blackburn Rovers in January.
"I'm absolutely delighted for everyone at the club, especially after what happened last year when Reading lost in the play-off final," he said.
"To achieve promotion this season was incredible. Who would have called that? Lots of teams who lose a play-off final go under but this bunch of players didn't.
"When you think about your career you wonder how many FA Cup campaigns are you going to have and how many chances of winning something will you have. It's not many.
"I've been promoted twice in my career before but I had never won anything so this is the first time I've won something and it will always be an honour people cant take away from me. This is special, it doesn't get any better."