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Hunt sets sights high after signing - 01/07/2005

   Steve Coppell
   Bradford City

STEPHEN Hunt completed his move to Reading and then set his sights on breaking into the Republic of Ireland squad.

The 25-year-old left-sided player, who signed a one-year deal with the Royals yesterday (Wednesday), believes his switch to the Madejski Stadium will provide him with the perfect opportunity to impress Eire boss Brian Kerr.

Hunt, who made 136 appearances for Brentford during his time in West London, said: "Reading are a Championship club and it did not take me long to make my mind up to come here.

"And hopefully it will give me the opportunity to show the Ireland manager what I can do. "First and foremost I need to get into the Reading team and there will be a good battle for places here, but you have to set your sights high."

Hunt played for Steve Coppell at the Bees and at Crystal Palace and he revaled that was a decisive factor in his late decision to join the Royals ahead of Bradford City who had already put a contract on the table.

He said: "I was actually in Bradford when I got a call from Reading to say that they were interested in me.

"There was already a one-year offer on the table at Bradford and I had to think pretty quickly about what I wanted to do.

"But I know Steve Coppell well and when you have worked with a manager before you know what he is about and what you are going to get and he knows what he is going to get from you."

The move to Reading re-unites Hunt with close pal Steve Sidwell and former Brentford team-mates Ibrahima Sonko and Ivar Ingimarsson.

He said: "I know a few of the players already and that should help with settling in.

"I have kept in touch with most of them and have spoken to them regularly and it will be good to play with them again. But it will also be good to get to know my other team-mates and make new friends."

Hunt's final season at Griffin Park was dogged by injuries but after two days of vigorous fitness testing at Reading the Ireland u21 international insists he is in great shape.

Hunt, who can also play as a centre forward, said: "I have had a couple of days testing and passed it all with flying colours. "I am in good shape and I am raring to go and I want to prove to everyone that I am capable of playing at this level."

Coppell is delighted with his latest recruit and said: "What I hope he will bring to the squad is a more competitive edge to the left side of the team.

"He is naturally left-sided and has played for Ireland u21s.

"Perhaps over the last year he has not shown his best form but hopefully he can mature here and show people what he is capable of.

"I have known him since he was a boy so I know roughly what I will get from him and I know that whatever situation he finds himself in Stephen Hunt will always give 100 per cent."

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