Adkins relishing Reading challenge

Nigel Adkins has the task of keeping Reading in the Premier League. Photo: PA

Nigel Adkins is relishing the "great challenge" of trying to keep embattled Reading in the top flight.

Two months on from his surprise sacking by Southampton, the 48-year-old yesterday returned to the Barclays Premier League as successor to Brian McDermott - the man that beat him to the npower Championship crown last season.

However, Reading are in serious danger of an immediate return to the second tier as they sit seven points adrift of safety with eight matches remaining.

After signing a deal at the Madejski Stadium until 2016, Adkins said: "Everyone has written us off but it is a great challenge, isn't it?

"Let's dream and go for it. I think the important thing is we take it one game at a time without setting a points total.

"Yeah, it is going to be a great challenge but one we're relishing.

"You can always look at the history that has gone on. That's in the past, you've got to look to the future now."

Adkins has been busy since leaving Southampton, doing everything from a goalkeeping course with Edwin van der Sar to having dinner with Jonny Wilkinson.

He also spent a week with Bundesliga outfit Hamburg in Germany, which is where he was when the news of McDermott's sacking broke.

Adkins was initially understood not to have not been interested in the Royals post, with reports suggesting he even turned the job down at one point.

Brighton manager Gus Poyet also rejected the opportunity to replace McDermott, to whom Adkins revealed he spoke before taking the job.

"Brian didn't have a bad word to say about the football club," Adkins said. "He's always going to be welcome here, and he's a top, top man.

"I've had to think long and hard, and I'm very happy with the decision I've made. It's important that we keep looking for the future."

The former Scunthorpe boss does not have long to settle into his new job, with a trip to Arsenal awaiting his side this weekend.

Adkins and assistant manager Andy Crosby met with the squad for the first time shortly after being appointed yesterday and watched training, before calling a staff meeting.

"It's a good football club, Reading," he said. "Spirited, good support base, they get behind the team, the players are highly motivated and they were the champions last season.

"Already, just spending the morning at the training ground, you can tell there's a family environment and a feelgood factor all about the place. I'm really looking forward to working here."