Le Fondre puts United loyalties aside
Adam Le Fondre is ready to risk a family feud by helping Reading beat the club he grew up idolising.
Lifelong Manchester United fan Le Fondre admitted taking on the team he still supports was "fairytale" stuff for a player who was plying his trade in npower League Two as recently as last year.
But the former Stockport, Rochdale and Rotherham striker insisted he would have no qualms scoring the goal that denied United top spot in the Barclays Premier League if it helped Reading in their bid to beat the drop.
Le Fondre was raised as a United fan and, asked about the prospect of scoring, said: "I don't think my dad will be pleased."
The same could not be said for his dad's brother, whose family all follow champions Manchester City, the team which stands to profit from any Reading victory this weekend.
"It's going to be a great occasion for me personally and, obviously, for my family as well," Le Fondre added.
"My dad loves United. He used to go to all the games.
"He used to travel away from home. I think he even went to a few of the European games."
Le Fondre's father passed on the United bug to his children, who grew up idolising the side who went on to dominate English football for the next two decades.
Players like Brian McClair and Eric Cantona were Le Fondre's early heroes and tomorrow's game at the Madejski Stadium gives him the chance to take on their modern counterparts Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez.
"You look at Rooney and Van Persie, they're two at the top of their game - world-class strikers," said Le Fondre, who admitted he would not be able to resist souvenir-hunting.
"But I'm not here to swap shirts," he added.
"I'm here to win the three points and that's the main thing."
Jimmy Kebe remains a major doubt for Reading. Midfielder Kebe has faced a tricky recovery from the groin injury that has kept him out for almost three weeks.
Danny Guthrie should be available following a thigh problem that has laid him low this month but Alex McCarthy and Jem Karacan remain sidelined.
Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson is refusing to accept that the title race is a two-horse race already - but the Manchester United boss would not be surprised if that is how it ends up.
With United maintaining their position at the top of the Premier League by beating West Ham on Wednesday, neighbours City remaining unbeaten and neither West Brom nor Chelsea able to win in midweek, a gap has suddenly opened up between the Manchester duo and the rest.
A point in front of City, the Red Devils are now seven ahead of third-placed Chelsea, sparking fears of a runaway, as was the case last season when Arsenal were an incredible 19 points behind the pair who were split by the tightest of goal difference margins.
"You can't be certain of saying it's going to be a two-horse race at this stage," said Ferguson.
"But over the years we've said that the top five or six are all capable of winning the league and eventually it does ends up being a two-horse race. Year after year it's been like that.
"There was space between the two teams and others last year.
"The important thing to do is just look at yourselves - we want to be up there all the time. We need to stay up there and this is not an easy league to do it in."
News of Nemanja Vidic's imminent return from knee surgery is a major plus.
There is still a feeling that Vidic's partnership with Rio Ferdinand is the best United have open to them, even if the latter man's appearances are having to be restricted these days as well.
"I gave Rio a rest the other night with this game in mind," said Ferguson.
"With Chris Smalling and Phil Jones back it definitely gives me the right type of problem."
Ferguson accepted the irony of a situation that just as he is starting to see some easing in the defensive nightmare he has endured since the season began, now his wide players should start falling by the wayside.
Nani and Antonio Valencia have been ruled out of the Reading trip with hamstring and hip injuries respectively, while Ashley Young's form has not been the same since he returned from a knee problem.