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Ali: ‘We need to go and show why we are third in the table’

12 December 2016

Al-Habsi looks ahead to an important evening in Leeds

Royals stopper Ali Al-Habsi says Reading are going to be ready for Tuesday’s encounter with Leeds and that the team need to go and show why they are third in the table.

The keeper underlined how the squad showed a great character with the way they bounced back after the loss at Fulham to make it six wins out of the last seven in the Sky Bet Championship.  

“They’re sixth in the table and it will be a tough game,” admitted Al-Habsi. “We showed against Wednesday that we can come back stronger when we suffer defeats in the season.

“It will be a tough test for us," he continued. “We need to go away from home and show why we are third in the table.  We have a great squad, a great manager, great fans, and everyone is focused.

“To come back from a 5-0 defeat and to come here and show this kind of performance and character from the players is a big bonus for us.”

Saturday’s win over the Owls kept the Royals in the top three and five points ahead of Tuesday’s opponents. Al-Habsi was very complimentary of the whole team after the home performance and says the squad are now turning their attention to two important away matches.

“It’s a massive win for us and showed great character from the players,” said the keeper. “Everyone knows that when you when you lose 5-0 a week ago, and you come back home to play against Sheffield Wednesday, you need to get back to your normal level of performance.  That’s what we did.

“We stayed in top three and improved our points. The next two games away from home, against Leeds and Blackburn, will be tough.  For us, this is a really big three points”

Late on in Saturday’s win, the Reading glovesman made a pivotal save for his side as he tipped Steven Fletcher’s shot on the swivel round his post to keep the Royals in front.

Despite more heroics from last campaign’s player of the season, Al-Habsi said he was pleased to be able to relieve some pressure from his teammates doing the defensive shift and ensure they got the three points their hard working performance merited.

“Like I always say, it’s my job to make saves – and important saves, said the Reading goalkeeper.  “It was really important to make that save at the end to give a bit of a breather for the players.  They put pressure on us, but we controlled it.

“The whole team today – from the strikers, midfielders, defence, myself and the substitutes – you could feel that everyone who came onto the pitch wanted to push for the team.

“We were very happy – we are very glad because we have a tough schedule coming next, and that’s why the Wednesday game was important.  Don’t forget, Sheffield Wednesday are a team near us in the table so to win it and put a gap between us and them is really important.”

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