Manager previews Addicks’ visit
Now that the international weekend has passed, Royals boss Steve Clarke is hopeful of keeping a good run of domestic results going for the team. At the same time, he knows that Charlton Athletic won’t be pushovers when they arrive at Madejski Stadium on Saturday.
Reading have five wins from the last six in the league, while the Addicks are winless in the same period. But that run of results doesn’t tell the full story and don't allow anything to be taken for granted, as Clarke explained.
“We want to try to pick up where we left off – there’s no reason why we can’t,” said the Royals boss. “But you always have to bear in mind that the opposition always have a say in the matter.
“There are no easy games in the Championship. Every game you go into, you see potential problems and potential difficulties, and this weekend is no exception.
“Charlton are a good team – I watched them just before the international break, when they were at home to Fulham. They did ever so well to come back from two-nil down to get a point in the game, and they’ll take a feel-good factor from that.
“Last year against Reading they took six points, so it’s a game that we have to be very mindful of, and treat it with the proper respect and make sure that we get back to winning ways as soon as possible.”
The manager has been able to welcome back a few internationals back to the group in recent days – in particular Oliver Norwood, fresh from qualification to Euro 2016 with Northern Ireland, and Hal Robson-Kanu and Chris Gunter who did the same with Wales.
Now Clarke will have most of those international Royals available again as they prepare for this weekend’s clash.
“Our Northern Ireland representative Ollie Norwood has come back in a great frame of mind, as have the two Welsh boys,” Clarke continued. “Although unfortunately Hal picked up a little injury that makes him a doubt for this weekend.
“When they go away, you want them to do well for their country and you don’t want them to come back injured – but you have to accept that as part and parcel of the football calendar. It is disappointing that we might lose Hal for this weekend, but I’m not ruling him out yet – we’ve got a couple of days and a good medical team here who will be working hard before the weekend to see if they can make him available.
“For the rest of them, it is great. The Northern Ireland achievement in particular for me is a great – to be fifth seeds in the group and to win the group is an amazing achievement.”
The gaffer is also keen to keep the momentum going in the stands, as well as on the pitch. He is hopeful that the team can give the supporters even more reasons to cheer, and in turn that the fans can play their part this weekend and beyond.
He continued: “The crowd are buying into what we’re trying to do. There seems to be a feel-good factor around the place and for us we want to make that last as long as possible – hopefully until the very last game of the season, where everyone is excited and looking forward to watching Reading play from game to game.
“This is what we’re after and what we’re trying to achieve. At home the crowd play a big part – if the crowd can get behind the team from the early stages of the game and make it a great atmosphere, it lifts the players as well which is fantastic for everybody.”