Football: Reid short of strikers

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The Independent Online
PETER REID, the Sunderland manager, might be enjoying life three points clear at the top of the First Division, but he realises that he needs strength in depth to maintain that position and the club's current unbeaten 21-game run.

When Grimsby visit the Stadium of Light today, they could be facing a side without a recognised first-team striker following illness and injuries to Niall Quinn, Kevin Phillips, Michael Bridges and Danny Dichio. Martin Smith and John Mullin are on standby to form a new attacking partnership.

"I don't know what the team will do until we have a roll call tomorrow," Reid said last night. "I have one or two options. This is why you want a strong squad."

Huddersfield, the former leaders, try to get their challenge back on track against Ipswich without Ben Thornley, who fractured a foot in last week's 1-1 draw at Birmingham.

But Peter Jackson, the Terriers' manager, is convinced he has adequate cover. "Losing Ben is a blow, but I have players like Paul Barnes and Paul Dalton who are vastly experienced and more than capable of filling the breach," he said.

Colin Lee takes his first steps in management when he looks after Wolves as caretaker at Bristol City following Mark McGhee's departure. "This is an opportunity I am very excited about," Lee said. "I have to make full use of it because I have a burning desire to succeed, but I am only in temporary charge and this is a club of massive stature."

Denis Smith, the West Brom-wich manager, has warned of Birmingham's desire for revenge at The Hawthorns. "I know City played Albion off the park last season and lost 1-0," he said. "I understand even the Albion players felt a little embarrassed to get all three points."

The point is not lost on Trevor Francis, the Blues' manager. "Last season against Albion was a game we should have won because we created so much," he said. "We will look to put that right this time."