Royals boss previews Friday night encounterRoyals manager Steve Clarke expects a tough test on Friday when Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich visit Madejski Stadium. Clarke will be looking for Reading to continue their unbeaten run and is targeting a first home victory of the season.
“Ipswich were a team that were up there all of last year, they got into the play-off places and stayed there, a lot of people doubted they would stay there but Mick’s teams have always got a good resolve about them,” said Clarke.
“They’re always hard to play against and always difficult games, I don’t think Friday night will be any different, I think it will be a big challenge for us to get our first home win of the season.”
The Scotsman was pleased to welcome the majority of Royals’ players, who had been on International duty, back to training on Wednesday and is hoping the returning players bring a positive attitude with them.
“I saw them all get a bit of a run out. The Welsh boys obviously come back in a great frame of mind as they’re almost there [in terms of qualification for the European Championships] and Ollie will be coming back in a positive frame of mind with Northern Ireland having almost qualified, which is great because they bring that feelgood factor into the club and that’s what we want,” said Clarke.
“There is a good feel about the place after finishing with a good win just before the international break. It was a decent transfer deadline day for us and there is a lot of optimism for the future.”
The international break was an opportunity for the manager to work with some of the new arrivals on the training pitch and Clarke is pleased at the way his new signings are settling in.
“The new boys are settling in very well and have settled quickly, they’ve joined in with sessions straight away, Ola John, Matej Vydra and Lucas Piazon are all in a good state of fitness, fitted in well and I think they’ve enjoyed the training they’ve had. They’re all looking forward to their first game,” Said Clarke.
The Royals boss also hinted that the new faces would have a part to play in the coming games, giving him a lot of attacking options to choose from.
“It’s going to be difficult for me to make some decisions, I’ve got a lot of players now, especially in forward areas so there is great competition for places. That’s something that I will have to be quite clever and intelligent with, not to make too many changes at one time and not disrupt the balance or the rhythm of the team which has been good up until now.
“I’ll look to integrate one or two into the team over the course of the next few weeks. In the Championship there are a lot of games coming up. There is never a week when you look and think there’s a clear week, because there is always a midweek game and we will look to utilise the squad as much as we can.”
The gaffer was very pleased with the manner of the victory against Brentford prior to the international break and wants his team and club to build on the positive performance at Griffin Park.
“It was important to get the win against Brentford because the performances had been good and the players knew the performances had been good,” reflected Clarke.
“Until you get that first win though, you always have that doubt as to whether what you’ve got is good enough to get wins in the Championship, so it was good to go away to a team that challenged up at the top of the league all last season and get a win. It’s a difficult place to go, the team went there and were well beaten last season, so to go there this season and play as well as we did and get such a good result is really important for everybody moving forward.”