McDermott: There's talent in the lower leagues

Reading manager Brian McDermott believes there is plenty of talent to be sourced in the Football League if Barclays Premier League clubs are willing to be brave.

Hope Akpan of Reading

The Royals have a number of players on their books who initially made a name for themselves playing in the lower leagues, and McDermott reckons his policy of giving those individuals a chance is worth the risk even if they do not have top-flight experience..

"There are players out there," he said. "I'm convinced that if you are brave enough to take them from the leagues below that they can play in this league.

"We've done it for years and we've always been willing to give people a chance. We bring in staff that are hungry and the same with players."

The latest player to be given a chance by McDermott is midfielder Hope Akpan.

The 21-year-old former Everton trainee was making an impression for npower League One outfit Crawley before being snapped up by McDermott in the January transfer window.

Akpan has impressed in his first few appearances for the Berkshire club but it was his application off the field that first caught his manager's eye.

"I never have expectations. I just wait and see what happens when the guy turned up," McDermott said.

"I like his personality and I like him as a player. He's a refreshing guy and asked me questions when I first met him about how he could improve.

"He wanted to talk about football and what he needed to do. This is the perfect place for him too. I'm sure the move would have been questioned by some people, but we believe he can do really well.

"Looking at his last couple of performances, you can see that.

"I knew Hope's ability and that he would fit in. He wants to play and I'm pleased he has made his debut and we got a result (2-1 win at Newcastle). Now he is a very important part of our squad."

Reading striker Adam Le Fondre has just been named Barclays Player of the Month for January after scoring five times throughout the month, with all his efforts coming as a substitute.

The 26-year-old moved to the Madejski Stadium from Rotherham in 2011 and McDermott feels Le Fondre is living proof that players can make the natural progression to become Premier League quality.

"He's the perfect example for players in League One and Two," he said. "He shows it is doable and he would be an inspiration to those kind of players. It's great to see, it really is. We're talking about him getting a call-up for England too - and why not?"

Le Fondre, 26, reckons playing in the Premier League suits his style more than the rough and tumble of the Football League and has given a few words of advice to new recruit Akpan.

"I always think the Premiership is a little easier," he said. "The Championship is a little bit more 'fightball' than playing. It suits me playing football. Hope has been brilliant and you can see his quality on the ball.

"The only thing he (Akpan) asked me about was tackling as he has a dodgy disciplinary record. I told him to be careful - everything in this league is scrutinised so much."

Reading face Stoke on Saturday sitting two points clear of the relegation zone, with Le Fondre's goal return since the turn of the year having helped McDermott's side to 10 points from a possible 15.

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