Stam on availability of Royals quartetThe Royals have just one more Championship match ahead of the latest international weekend – a trip to Wigan this coming Saturday.
Our gaffer Jaap Stam confirmed that the shape of the squad is coming along nicely… there are no new injuries to be concerned about, and a few of the players who have been unavailable in recent weeks are getting closer to their return.
In particular there could be options again at either end of the pitch – centre-half Jake Cooper and attacker Yakou Meite have both been involved in friendly fixtures and Under-23 games in the past fortnight as they continue their recoveries. But he admitted that they won’t be rushed back too quickly and at the risk of recurring their injuries.
“The squad is looking okay – we haven’t had a midweek game so we have had plenty of time to work on our shape and get players back into the squad and fit again,” said the manager. “Everything seems quite good.
“The Under-23s played a friendly game at the beginning of the week – Yakou Meite and Jake Cooper both played, and some other players who were on the bench against Forest were involved as well. So things are looking okay.
“Jake and Yakou have been out for a long time and they’re getting back into shape. When you have been out for a long time, when you are then feeling well it doesn’t mean that you can start straight away in the first XI.
“They need to get their fitness back and get the feeling for the ball again on the pitch – that’s what we’re doing with them now. But they are looking good and in the short term they can join in the squad.
“Jake played 90 minutes last week and he is getting back to where he needs to be fitness-wise. Of course you can talk about getting back into shape in the sense that you can train again – and if we want to we can take him in the squad because he isn’t feeling it any more in his ankle.
“But we need to be careful in what we do of course; with him and Yakou Meite too, we don’t to rush them into certain things and get the injury again and then they are out for a while again.”
Meanwhile, duo Stephen Quinn and Joseph Mendes are still a little way away from their return to the setup. After a month on the sidelines, Irishman Quinn made a brief cameo at Arsenal last week but then didn’t feature at the weekend against Forest, while French striker Mendes also hasn’t been involved in first-team affairs in the past month.
“It’s going to take another couple of weeks for Joseph – hopefully he can join in towards the end of the international period and link up with the main group,” said Stam. “He is working with the physios and working in the gym, and some light running outside – but it takes time to get into full fitness.
“He is very eager to do well, perform, and play games. So for him it is a bit frustrating. But he understands and he is realistic about what he has to do to get back into shape. We’ve got a couple of strikers, but it’s always nice to have someone extra; his physique and pace is useful for us as well.
“It just takes time – it’s the same for everybody when they get a hamstring injury. It just takes time to get back into shape… if it’s a tear, you have to take your recovery days. You can always try to push them to be back for a certain game, but we don’t to do that. If you push it, there is a big risk that it can get worse as well.
“Stephen Quinn still has a small knee problem. They had a look at his knee and he has a bit of irritation so he isn’t in training at the moment and he’s having treatment. The midfield is very important for us and we want different options in there – Quinny is an experienced player in what he can bring. He is important for the squad, but if he has a problem then we give him time to recover.”