Reading pair join City on loan

David Cuffley City boss Glenn Roeder has completed a hat-trick of loan signings in a matter of hours by snapping up Reading teenagers Alex Pearce and James Henry. News of their arrival follows last night's capture of 21-year-old Middlesbrough defender Matthew Bates on loan at Carrow Road until April 28.

David Cuffley

City boss Glenn Roeder has completed a hat-trick of loan signings in a matter of hours by snapping up Reading teenagers Alex Pearce and James Henry.

News of their arrival follows last night's capture of 21-year-old Middlesbrough defender Matthew Bates on loan at Carrow Road until April 28.

Roeder said centre-half Pearce, 19, and winger Henry, 18, came highly recommended and he insisted: “All three boys are here to play first team football.”


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Roeder said he was delighted that Reading boss Steve Coppell had agreed to release his two youngsters.

He said: “I like taking players from Steve Coppell because he only has a certain type of player. They must be well motivated. I've done my homework and I am told both boys fit the bill in terms of attitude and desire.

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“Steve believes Pearce is a Premiership quality defender and he has high hopes for Henry.

“Pearce is here on a window-to-window loan and Henry is an emergency loan.”

The 5ft 10in Bates can play at centre-back or full-back, but Roeder sees him as providing cover and competition at right-back for Jon Otsemobor.

Middlesbrough have a 24-hour recall clause as part of the loan deal, which they can activate any time after the first month of his loan spell with City has elapsed.

“Matthew Bates is a young player Gareth Southgate thinks highly of at Middlesbrough but he needs games,” said Roeder.

“We haven't had cover for Jon Otsemobor, but he will now have someone pushing for his place.

“I'm delighted to have these three young talents, although none of them is for sale.

“I like working with young players. I don't agree with people who say young players make mistakes. I've seen plenty of players with more than 500 games under their belt make mistakes.

“In my opinion, if they are good enough, they are old enough.”

Pearce, 6ft tall, has won Scotland youth international caps and also played 15 games on loan at Northampton, and 11 at Bournemouth.

He made his senior Reading debut as a substitute in last season's 3-2 FA Cup win over Burnley, given the job of marking ex-Canary Ade Akinbiyi.

Wide player Henry, 6ft 1in, is an England Under-18 international. He has had loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth and made his senior Reading debut in this season's Carling Cup, as a substitute in a 4-2 home defeat by Liverpool.

Former England youth international Bates has been with Middlesbrough since the age of 12. He made his Premiership debut in December 2006 and has since made a total of 32 league and cup appearances, 11 as a substitute, for the first team at centre-back and right-back.

He spent loan spells at Darlington and Ipswich - during which he played in the East Anglian derby in November 2006, where his challenge sent Luke Chadwick, on his City debut, careering into the advertising hoardings where he was left with a knee injury that took him out for much of the season.

Ironically, Bates' second game for Ipswich saw him pick up a knee ligament injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

“Matthew has coped well, but it's a long and lonely road, no matter how much support you are given from the physio and the other players and staff,” said Boro' manager Southgate when Bates returned to training.

Pearce will wear squad number 13, Bates 22 and Henry 30.

Roeder said he was hoping to secure a fourth new face - an attacking player - later today after admitting that two of his striker targets were not for sale. One was believed to be Scunthorpe's Martin Paterson, but chairman Steve Wharton said £5m would not be enough to tempt him to sell.

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