Neville ’embarrassed’ by display

Reading striker Jason Roberts admitted he was sad to hear of

Brian McDermott’s sacking as manager.

McDermott was axed earlier on Monday with Reading four points

adrift of safety after suffering their fourth successive defeat

against fellow strugglers Aston Villa on Saturday.

Roberts admits he was shocked by the news and he paid tribute to

the job McDermott has done at the Madejski Stadium after guiding

them to promotion to the Premier League last season.

“Well I am saddened,” Roberts told Sky Sports News. “I hadn’t

heard anything about it I just found out earlier and as in most

situations players are probably one of last people to find out

about these things.

“I am saddened because he has been absolutely fantastic for us,

been fantastic for me personally and for the club and I think he’s

been a victim of his own success in some ways.

“I am sure he is going to be disappointed but as you know in

football it’s a result business and I am sure he will say that as

much as anybody else but as a player I am disappointed and it is a

sad day for us.”

Roberts believes McDermott deserves praise for what he has done

at the club during his time in charge.

“It is always tough in these situations we are not party to the

discussions had between the manager and whoever else,” added

Roberts.

“All we can do is just try and perform as best we can on the

pitch and I think the performances we have given up to this point

to allow Reading to be in Premier League and be in the position we

are now have been over and above what people would have

expected.

“In the Premier League certainly we would have liked to have

done better and liked to have been out of relegation zone but from

my point of view I think it is an important time to look back and

feel the success what Brian has achieved, what this group of

players have achieved with the club and take stock of what a great

situation Reading find themselves in.

“At the moment we have got nine games to go there is an

opportunity for us to remain in the premier league and we’ve

absolutely done better than people would have expected certainly

with the promotion and of course everyone wrote us off at the start

of the season.

“With nine games to go we still have an opportunity to achieve

Premier League survival.

“As a player it is just for me to place on record my thanks to

Brian McDermott on what he has achieved and whatever goes from here

on in we need to work hard and keep Reading in the Premier League

because that is the goal and even Brian McDermott would say the

same thing.”

A host of names including Nigel Adkins and Paolo Di Canio have

been linked with replacing McDermott, but Roberts wouldn’t be drawn

on who he wanted to get the job.

“It’s not a decision we are party to,” Roberts continued. “All

we can do is concentrate on what we do on the pitch and on the

training ground and do our best for Reading – I don’t think anyone

would say anything different.

“What we need to do is make sure we leave Reading in a good

position, I think Brian McDermott has done that and I think we owe

it to the club and owe it to Brian as much as anyone, to do the

best we can.”

The hosts hope Paul Quinn will be fit as the full-back is

nursing a knock following the 2-1 win at Bournemouth on Saturday

and Rovers boss Dean Saunders will check on him before finalising

his plans for Tuesday night.

Captain Rob Jones overcame the calf and ankle problems that

forced him off at half-time in the 3-0 defeat at MK Dons to play

the full 90 minutes against the Cherries.

Meanwhile, fellow centre-half Jamie McCombe has recovered from a

fractured bone in his back and resumed training but he is not yet

ready to be considered for first-team selection.

Winger Kyle Bennett will also miss out again as he recovers from

a knee injury.

With snow forecast for Monday night, Doncaster will conduct a

pitch inspection at midday on Tuesday to determine whether the game

will go ahead.

New signing Mathieu Manset could be included in the Cumbrians’

squad if the club receives international clearance in time.

But the 23-year-old Frenchman, recently with Swiss club Sion

following his release in the summer from Reading, is only 80 per

cent fit according to boss Greg Abbott.

Teenage striker Mark Beck is expected to lead the line in the

absence of the suspended Lee Miller after scoring his sixth goal of

the season in Saturday’s 2-0 home win over Brentford.

Miller will sit out the last game of his three-match ban

following his recent dismissal against Notts County.

Matty Robson (groin) returned from a four-match injury lay-off

against Brentford and is likely to continue and Abbott will be

boosted by the return to contention of midfielder Liam Noble

following illness.

Abbott has no other new injury or suspension problems.

However the 36-year-old, who was taken off at half-time on

Saturday, insists the players will refocus their efforts on

securing European football.

He accepts, however, hopes of Champions League qualification –

which remained a tantalising prospect for much of the season – are

distant.

“It was a disastrous weekend for us. It was a disastrous

performance and there is no hiding away from it,” he said.

“Personally I was embarrassed by my own performance, it wasn’t

good enough as a captain and all the lads feel the same.

“We can’t hide away from the fact that we have to take our

medicine now, take the criticism that comes our way.

“We really felt this was going to be our year in the FA Cup but

we were beaten on the day by a team that was better than us.

“Sometimes you can lose cup ties and you can be unlucky but

there was no ‘unlucky’ about it on Saturday, we were well and truly

beaten and we need to put that right.

“We have got two months left in the season and we have to bounce

back and get a reaction.

“That’s what the manager wants and I’m confident in the group of

players that I share a dressing room with that we will do that.

“The Champions League place is in the distance: a European

place, we would take that now.

“It’s what we have been going for all season, making sure that

next season there is European football being played at Everton.

That’s our aim and remains our aim.

“If we can finish in the top four then so be it, but at the

moment our short-term aim is to win next Saturday against Man City

and to attack the last eight or nine games of the season.”

Irate fans voiced their anger at Goodison Park – which has

continued over subsequent days – with a chorus of boos and

half-time and the final whistle while midfielder Marouane Fellaini

was jeered when he was substituted in the second half.

The Belgium international appeared to become involved in an

altercation with supporters as he left the pitch and walked

straight down the tunnel.

Fellaini was due to attend a signing session at the club’s

Everton Two store in Liverpool this afternoon but that was

strategically pulled in light of Saturday’s events.

A statement on Everton’s website said: “Due to unforeseen

circumstances this afternoon’s signing session with Marouane

Fellaini at Everton Two has been postponed.”

The midfielder added on Twitter: “Sorry to the Everton fans, I

cannot make the signing session this afternoon. Will do another one

soon. Felly.”

Neville has called for the players to pick themselves up and

show the fight which was so lacking at the weekend when the Premier

League champions come calling on Saturday.

“It’s the time where we need to stand up for ourselves,” he told

Sky Sports News.

“We had a disappointing February, picked up our form going into

March and then last week was a major setback for us.

“But this team, this club, has got major character and I fancy

us to bounce back.”

Everton manager David Moyes’ contract runs out in the summer and

the Scot has said he will not make a decision on his future until

later in the season.

Critics have suggested that has not helped the situation at

Everton, who dropped to seventh after Liverpool’s win over

Tottenham yesterday but are still level on points with their

near-neighbours and seven adrift of the top four.

“That’s something that only the gaffer can answer,” said Neville

in response to speculation about Moyes.

“He has brought all of the players in the squad to the club and

we all want him to stay but that’s up to the manager.

“We aren’t using that as an excuse for Saturday’s performance

-anyone that does, that’s a bit of a cop out.”