Reading striker Adam Le Fondre has revealed he was rejected by Premier League leaders Manchester United when he was seven years old. The 26-year-old forward, who graduated from Stockport County's youth academy, said he spent six weeks training with Sir Alex Ferguson's side and scored a hat-trick in a trial game for under-nines. Sadly, he was rejected.

"I was devastated when they pulled me aside and said I was not being taken on," he confessed, ahead of the Royals' FA Cup tie at Old Trafford.

Adam Le Fondre
Reading FC

Le Fondre is now Brian McDermott's leading goalscorer in the Premier League with 10 goals from 24 appearances. Incredibly, 16 of those appearances were from the bench, leading to comparisons with United's super-sub, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

"I know Solskjaer made his name as a sub, but I do not want to do that. I want to start. It has always been my dream to score at Old ­Trafford. Eric Cantona and Brian McClair were my ­heroes. My dad is a massive supporter as well, so it will be a very special game," Le Fondre said.

Meanwhile, although he rejected the opportunity to sign him, Ferguson said he had nothing but praise for the striker. The Scot claimed Le Fondre has been an integral part of the Royals' recent successes; the club have lost only twice in the last eight league games.

"I watched Le Fondre when he was at Stockport. It's a big jump to come from Stockport to the Premier League. You've got to give the boy credit. I think Le Fondre has done most of his scoring in the home games and he's scored late goals for them. It's been a turnaround for Brian McDermott since Christmas. It looked as if they were destined to go down but now they're rescuing games in the last few minutes," Ferguson told his club's website.

Ferdinand on FA Cup

Veteran midfielder Ryan Giggs has confirmed team-mate and ex-England centre-back Rio Ferdinand is desperate to win the FA Cup. The 39-year-old Welshman previously spoke in praise of the 34-year-old Ferdinand, claiming his exclusion from the national side by Roy Hodgson was proving to be a blessing for the Old Trafford club.

"Rio hasn't won the Cup - but there's quite a few players at the club who haven't won it either. United have a great history in the FA Cup, but we haven't had a good record in it for the last few seasons and we want to do ourselves justice this time," Giggs said.