Kelly backing McCleary and Karacan to make a big impactStephen Kelly believes that the return to fitness of Garath McCleary and Jem Karacan will be of huge benefit to all of Reading’s first-team squad.
McCleary was given the all clear by his back surgeon last week and is set to feature in a behind-closed-doors friendly tomorrow, while Karacan remains on the mend from a knee problem.
And Kelly says that an increased number of fit personnel within the squad should bring out the best in everyone.
“Getting Garath and Jem back will be very important,” he said. “Jem is obviously captain of the club, so it will be interesting to see him come back with his energy levels. Garath can unlock defences and from last season you can tell how dangerous he
can be as an attacking threat.
“Getting these options back is only going to create competition for places and that will make people be on top of their game. The more top-quality players you have available, the more it makes everybody have to be on their toes. As a whole, you should get players performing to a higher level and that should only affect us positively.”
The Royals head into the international break having won two of their last four games, scoring seven goals in the process, but were beaten 1-0 by Charlton on Saturday. Kelly hopes that they can use the next fortnight to establish a base for a consistent run of results.
“It’s a bit up and down at the moment,” he said. “We’re hoping to put a run of form together because everyone knows that it can really project you up the table in this league.
“Everybody is keen to get one started sooner rather than later. We’ve had the first third of the season and there is a long way to go. Having this blip now, and once we get things right and get things going, we’ll be okay.
“We have had spells of doing good things but have counteracted them with something silly. This group is capable of achieving good things, it’s just a matter of getting it right more frequently.”
Saturday’s loss to Charlton was one of frustration, as the Royals dominated possession without overly testing visiting goalkeeper Stephen Henderson.
Kelly said: “It was extremely disappointing to lose 1-0, especially in the fashion that we did. We had a lot of the ball and played well at times but just couldn’t unlock them. We played some nice stuff and kept a lot of possession but conceded a sloppy goal and that cost us.
“After a big win in midweek, we came into the game with a lot of confidence and you could see that we played the ball a lot better, passed it better and in the final third, with the players we have, usually we’re guaranteed a goal. It just didn’t happen.
“We were just lacking that bit of quality and killer instinct in our final ball - something that we had on Tuesday. We were very penetrative then and always looked like we were going to score whenever we came forward.”