Manager on Rakels, Evans and West Brom
Deniss Rakels and George Evans each played an hour for the Under-21s on Monday, helping the team to a 1-0 win against Leicester and each working on getting up to match fitness – and manager Brian McDermott provided an update ahead of Burnley’s visit on Saturday.
Evans, who arrived from Man City fully fit after a loan spell with Walsall, missed out recently after picking up a training ground injury. Meanwhile Rakels, who looked bright from the bench against Wolves, is quickly getting up to speed again – the mid-season break with former side Cracovia began in mid-December.
“George is coming back from the groin strain which he has got, and Deniss played 60 minutes as well – which was great for them,” said McDermott.
“George is a long-term project here and he’s a young player that is going to get better and better. We’re going to develop him and he’ll prove to be a really good signing for us, I’m sure.
“And I’ve been so impressed with the way Deniss has settled. He’s a great lad and his English is okay if you speak to him individually – there’s no problem there. He’s a really good lad and a good player; he’s clever and he’s got an eye for goal.”
The Royals boss was also in Peterborough on Wednesday evening, watching the hosts doing battle with West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup; the Baggies triumphed on spot-kicks to book a trip to Madejski Stadium on Saturday 20th February.
It sets up a replay of our fifth round tie with the Midlands club from six years ago – a memory that Brian still holds vividly.
“I left five minutes before the end of extra-time, just before the penalties,” he continued. “So I didn’t know the outcome and I listened to it on the radio. It was a brilliant game – Peterborough played really well as well; some fabulous football.
“And West Brom as a Premier League side are a tough team, and have got some really good players and a manager that knows exactly what he’s doing in Tony Pulis. And Graham Westley has done a fabulous job at Peterborough. It was a fabulous night and they treated us really well there, and we appreciated the hospitality that we got from Peterborough. We’ll look forward to playing West Brom in the next round.
“I know there’ll be a big crowd at Madejski Stadium for that game, and we’ve got the home advantage which is fabulous. But we’ve got a big game coming up first against Burnley.
“We had a good game at the Madejski [in 2010] and we had to go back there – West Brom were favourites at the time, but Brian Howard scored a really late goal to get a 2-2 draw. Then we went into extra time – I remember Gylfi Sigurdsson putting one in the top corner from about 25 yards – I was right behind it, and I could see that it was going in from the moment he hit the ball! It was a great night.”