Midfielder reflects on Birmingham meetingSummer signing Joey van den Berg had been initially listed on Jaap Stam’s teamsheet to face Birmingham City on Tuesday evening – but a niggle picked up during the pre-match warm-up forced him to withdraw, paving a way into the starting XI for George Evans.
It was a straight swap as the former Man City man sat deepest of the Royals’ midfielders – he told us all about getting himself mentally ready to face the Blues at a moment’s notice.
“We came in just before the kick-off and everyone was getting ready – Andries [Ulderink] told me in the warm-up that Joey had a niggle and to be ready,” George explained.
“So I found out when I came in from the warm-up that Joey wasn’t going to be available to play, so I just got myself mentally prepared and got ready – so I’m delighted to go and play another 90 minutes.
“It’s good to go and get another game under my belt – when the gaffer said I was going to start, I was really looking forward to it – although it was quite late that I found out!”
Evans played a slightly different role to the one he fulfilled in recent weeks – often dropping between the centre-halves to provide another outlet in attack, and having an increased defensive responsibility to shut down the Blues’ attacks.
In that respect, he helped to contribute towards the Royals’ third clean-sheet of the campaign as the visitors drew a blank.
“Wherever the gaffer wants me to play, I’m more than happy to do so,” he continued. “We’ve worked a lot in training on dropping into that deep position – it’s just manoeuvring the ball to make the opposition to move a bit more.
“We moved the ball quite well today – we’ve obviously a bit disappointed that we didn’t get the win today, but I thought some of the stuff we played was excellent.
“Keeping a clean sheet is a massive plus for us and something that we want to pride ourselves on and we want to keep that up. I thought the lads worked really hard for the clean sheet but we’re obviously a bit gutted to not get the win.
“Birmingham also defended really well – they closed off the midfield quite well and went narrow. We had a bit of space down the sides but unfortunately we couldn’t quite get that win.
“We just want to keep picking up points, and we’re doing that at the moment. We’re on a decent run – we’re gutted that we didn’t get all three points today, but we’ve got to try and make it a fortress here.
“It’s a fantastic squad here – it’s a hungry squad. We’ve got some fantastic players here and some on the bench as well ready to make the difference. It’s nice when they can give us that bit of spark when they come on, but everyone is chomping at the bit to get that starting place.”