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Clarke on Leeds & squad depth

10 February 2015

Manager on Tuesday's clash

Steve Clarke has stressed the importance of having strong squad depth ahead of Leeds United’s visit to Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night.

The fixture signals the start of a busy period for Reading, with the club playing games on four consecutive Tuesday nights in addition to their weekend matches.

The punishing nature of the division has been amplified by the Royals’ FA Cup commitments, but Clarke has his eye firmly on Leeds.

The boss said: “It’s another tough game. In the Championship you don’t get any time to rest. [A midweek fixture] changes the structure of the week a little bit, but I know I have a lot of different changes I can make - the group is strong. The boys coming onto the pitch are making a big contribution and when you have a lot of games coming up in a short space of time it is important to have the strength in depth that we have at the moment.

“We’ll have a look at the footage of Leeds - see what sort of team they’ve got available and how they might play - and I will pick a team to counter that and hopefully pick up more points.”

Reading are currently sat 13th in the table, and are steadily climbing following a run of three league games unbeaten. Visitors Leeds are currently 20th, but they have lost just once in their previous five fixtures under manager Neil Redfearn.

The Royals are 13 points off the top six at the moment, and when asked about the play-offs by the press, he countered, “All the teams at the top are looking strong. At the moment it is a very far-away thought. I know it’s boring for you press guys, but we just focus on the next game.”

A bruising run of fixtures follows Tuesday night’s game, with a trip to Derby County in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup before Wigan are the visitors to Berkshire next week. Away trips to Ipswich and Huddersfield follow, but the Royals boss is keen to only focus on the immediate future.

“We’re building from game-to-game and trying to pick up points where we can,” he said. "We don’t have any specific targets. Our win [against Wolves] has made the gap to the teams below us a bit larger, but there is no room for complacency in football. We need to keep our foot down and keep working. Leeds United is the next priority. Three wins a row would be really good for us, and then we can sit down and think about derby in the Cup.”

Cheaper advanced prices for Tuesday's game with Leeds United are available until 5pm. To book call 0118 968 1313, visit Reading FC Direct or visit the ticket office in person.

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