READING FC manager Brian McDermott is confident of making two more signings within the next week.

Royals completed their fourth and fifth free transfers of the summer this week by re-signing former full-back Nicky Shorey and nabbing Irish teenager Pierce Sweeney from under Everton's noses.

The pair arrive at an exciting time for the club following the earlier capture of Pavel Pogrebnyak, Danny Guthrie and Garath McCleary.

But boss McDermott told the Chronicle he is close to completing two more deals that will bring another couple of fresh faces to Madejski Stadium.

The Chronicle understands those players are Newcastle United's Danny Simpson and Watford's Adrian Mariappa.

And Reading will attempt to tie up the transfers before they go to Portugal on pre-season tour next Wednesday.

"We're gong away to Portugal and I'd like to get a couple more in before then," McDermott confirmed. "We're close so watch this space.

"I'm looking to strengthen the squad the best I can and to give it balance in areas where we are short.

"I'm not going to say where they are but if you look at the team you will probably reach the same conclusions as me."

Having bolstered his attacking options with striker Pogrebnyak, winger McCleary and midfield schemer Guthrie, McDermott has clearly turned his attention to strengthening his defence.

Former Royals Player of the Year Shorey, 31, is likely to be the first-choice left-back next season ahead of Ian Harte and Joseph Mills.

But they remain short of options at centre-back where Alex Pearce, Kaspars Gorkss and Sean Morrison are the only specialists, and also at right-back where Shaun Cummings is the only recognised player following the release of Andy Griffin.

Rumours are now growing of interest in 25-year-old Simpson who has one year to run on his contract at St James' Park and has rejected a new deal.

Several rival Premier League clubs including Fulham and QPR are also chasing Simpson, but Reading will hope that ex-boss and Toon manager Alan Pardew can help their cause.

Royals haven't given up on Mariappa either despite having a reported �2 million bid rejected recently.

Watford boss Gianfranco Zola this week admitted the 25-year-old's future lies elsewhere, despite the presence of new owners, the Pozzo family.

Wigan have also been linked with Hornets' reigning Player of the Year, and Zola stated this week: "Adrian I know is a very good player and was one of the best last year.

"Obviously we want to keep him but we understand it is not only our decision, also it's Adrian's. I understand he maybe has the possibility to go to the Premier League and I won't step in front of him and stop him if he wants to go."

However, it appears reports stating Royals are preparing a �10 million swoop for Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe are wide of the mark - but the Chronicle believes McDermott could be interested in his Spurs team-mate Harry Kane.

Royals' boss flew to Estonia this week for the European Under 19 Championships and saw Kane, 18, score for England in a 2-1 win over France that confirmed top spot in their group and set up a semi-final clash with Greece today (Thursday).