Manager previews visit to CardiffRoyals boss Steve Clarke is confident that his team can get back to winning ways when they visit the Cardiff City Stadium on Saturday.
Reading have come from behind to take a valuable point in each of the last two fixtures, and remain just a single point outside the play-off place. But the manager wants three from the Bluebirds to keep the pressure on those teams above.
“Fixtures in this division come hard and fast,” said the gaffer. “It’s good for us – it’s a chance to get back on to winning ways. It’ll be difficult – it’s a difficult place to go and Cardiff have been good this year. Russell has gone in there and steadied the ship a bit and done well.
“So we go down there under no illusions and knowing it’s going to be difficult, but we’re looking to get back on the winning track.
“You want to keep in touch with the teams above you at this stage of the season. There are no prizes and no promotion when you get to November, but it’s important to not get too far detached from the top of the table. By my mathematics, seven points isn’t too far off the top of the table.
“So we’re not doing a lot wrong. We’ve only had three league defeats this season; the team is good and the team knows how to get points from difficult situations, and that’s going to stand us in good stead the longer the season goes.
“Obviously we want to win games and want to get more points on the board, but sometimes you have to take your medicine. If it’s a choice of taking your medicine and getting beat, or taking your medicine and getting a point, I’d rather have the second one.”
Even with another congested fixture list, work has been going on behind the scenes to identify the threats that Cardiff will pose – as well as spotting chinks in their armour and areas that could be exploited.
Clarke continued: “We look at the opposition all the time – I’m always trying to find a way to help the players and give the players the best possible preparation going into the game. And then you have to wait and see what the opposition do on the day because sometimes they change their tactics and the way they play.
“So you have to be ready for all eventualities. Basically that’s what pre-season is for – that’s when you nail down the nuts and bolts of your system and how you’re going to play against different systems, and then you hope to take that through the season.”
However a tough midweek slog against Huddersfield has cast doubt on the availability for a handful of players. The manager is hopeful that any knocks and niggles can be patched up ahead of the game.
“As I stand here now 48 hours before the game, we’ve got quite a lengthy injury list,” he admitted. “There are some doubts for the weekend and it would be disappointing to lose the players that are doubtful.
“I’m not going to give any names – but I’m going to rely on my medical staff to work their magic and give me as many available for this Saturday.”