Sheffield United: Fans plan Armstrong tribute

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Brian McDermott, the Reading manager, has given his backing to a plan by supporters to fans to sing Chris Armstrong’s name during the third minute of tomorrow’s FA Cup tie against Sheffield United, writes James Shield.

Armstrong enjoyed five seasons with United and three at the Madejski Stadium before retiring from the game aged 28 after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

The former defender wore the number three jersey for both clubs and McDermott said: “If that’s what the Sheffield United and Reading fans wanted to do after three minutes then I think that would be very fitting for a person of the stature of Chris Armstrong - considering what he did for both Reading and Sheffield United, what he does as a person, and for football in general. I’d certainly join in.”

McDermott was reserve-team boss at Reading when Armstrong joined in 2008 and then became manager the following year.

Recalling the player’s efforts to prolong his career after learning he had MS, McDermott added: “I saw what he went through that summer, and we had to obviously keep things quiet.

“He worked every single day, he got himself into a situation where he played a couple of league games for us - which was amazing.

“It was incredible. The strength of character that he had to show was astonishing - what he’s got inside, you can’t bottle that.”

The former Scotland B international, who also defied medical opinion to overcome a career threatening knee injury at Bramall Lane, will not be able to attend the fixture as daughter Frankie is celebrating her first birthday.

Meanwhile, Reading will be without striker Jason Roberts (hip) for tomorrow’s fourth round tie against Danny Wilson’s side.

Midfielder Jem Karacan suffered an unspecified knock in training but should be fit, while goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (shoulder) and midfielder Hope Akpan (cup-tied) are also unavailable.

Striker Adam Le Fondre could start after scoring twice in the Premier League win over Newcastle last weekend.