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Premier League

Reading caretaker Eamonn Dolan unsure of future beyond Manchester United

Brian McDermott was sacked this week

Caretaker manager Eamonn Dolan is unsure whether he will remain in charge of Reading beyond this weekend's trip to Manchester United.

Dolan, formerly the head of the Royals' academy, was handed the temporary reins after Brian McDermott was sacked on Monday.

McDermott's three-year tenure was ended, along with his assistant Nigel Gibbs, by Reading owner Anton Zingarevich following a four-game losing run that has left the club above last-placed QPR on goals scored only.

With nine games remaining there is little time to find a replacement, with former Southampton boss Nigel Adkins and ex-Swindon manager Paolo Di Canio installed as the early favourites to take over.

Dolan fronted the media for the first time today and, as well as refusing to be drawn on who might be tasked with leading the club's relegation fight, he also said he did not know if a new appointment was likely to be made before the next trip to Arsenal on March 30.

"It's been a difficult week for everybody," he said.

"The players were on the floor at the start of the week.

"The owner has asked me to take the team on Saturday. That's my only thought. That's the honest answer."

Dolan denied Zingarevich would play a part in picking the team for this weekend's trip to Old Trafford - albeit after a long pause - adding: "Obviously not. He's asked me to pick the team.

"He's talked to me about the team and trying to get a result - genuinely that is all he has said.

"I'm excited about going to Old Trafford. Really excited about that."

Dolan has been in regular contact with McDermott since he was axed and revealed the former boss had a simple message for the squad ahead of the trip to Old Trafford.

"Brian is a great friend of mine. I've spoken to him each day," he said.

"He's a great man. All he has said is: 'Good luck, get a result'.

"All he wants is for Reading to get a result."

Zingarevich spent yesterday morning at the club's Hogwood Park training ground working with director of football Nick Hammond on the recruitment process.

Following this weekend's match the Russian owner will have the grace of an international week to further develop a managerial search he hopes will help avert an immediate return to the npower Championship.

Di Canio has expressed his desire to manage at the highest level since his acrimonious departure from Swindon last month while Adkins was unlucky to lose his job at Southampton earlier this season after leading them back to the top flight.

Chelsea's Champions League winning manager Roberto Di Matteo has also been mentioned as a possible target.

The Italian has been out of work since his unexpected axing at Stamford Bridge in November.

Dolan's only first-team managerial experience was during a brief stint at Exeter, when they were outside the Football League, a decade ago.

The 45-year-old is set make his return against Premier League's champions-in-waiting and, while he admitted his admiration for Sir Alex Ferguson, said he would not be overawed.

"They're the best football club in the world and the best manager of all time," he said.

"But I won't be thinking about that tomorrow.

"We need to get a result. I think Reading Football Club deserves to be in the Premier League."

Asked if he would be able to pick his players up following McDermott's exit, he added: "This group are a great group of players. I've trained them in the past few days.

"You are not going to get a better group.

"They are just great people. They respected Brian. It has been a natural human emotion that they were disappointed after he left.

"We need to get a result."