Coppell confident of new Murty deal

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The Independent Online

Steve Coppell is convinced that his Reading captain, Graeme Murty, will agree a contract extension despite chairman John Madejski's ban on a testimonial for the long-serving defender.

The Scotland international's current deal expires in the summer, and goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and winger Glen Little are also in the same position.

Talks have been opened with all three and should Murty be granted his wish to stay on he will clock up a decade at the club next season. Madejski has made it club policy that no testimonials should be awarded although Phil Parkinson, now the manager at Hull City, had previously been granted one.

Coppell, the Reading manager, said he expected the captain to stay. "I don't think it will affect the contract negotiations," Coppell said. "The chairman in the past has said it is the club policy not to give testimonials but he was flexible with Parky a few years back.

"I don't know the tax implications - they are probably too difficult to understand - but we are in negotiations with 'Murts' to extend his contract and I'm sure it will come to a positive conclusion."

Coppell argued that Premiership players do not need testimonials nowadays, unless they are prepared to donate the cash to a worthy cause. He said: "I don't think testimonials are now what they were meant to be originally - and it is great to see so many high-level players giving money away to charity.

"Originally, it was meant for people who had spent 10 or 15 years earning not very much and then starting on the employment ladder 10 or 15 years behind everybody else. Now it has taken on a completely different meaning and it should all go into one pot and be given away."

Meanwhile, Coppell has told midfielder Stephen Hunt it is likely to be a year before the fuss surrounding his collision with Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech dies down. Cech suffered a fractured skull after Hunt caught him with a knee in the match at the Madejski Stadium last month.

Hunt wrote a letter of apology to Cech but relations between the two clubs remain strained, especially with the police investigating death threats posted to Hunt and team-mate Ibrahima Sonko.

Coppell, who has continued to pick Hunt, said: "It has been a very difficult time for him but he has conducted himself very well. He has tried not to get himself involved but has been sympathetic about events and he is regretful, too, without doubt. He has just got his head down and has almost been allowed to get on with his football without it being dragged up all the time but I have said to him it will probably be a year."

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