Gaffer looks at squad selection for Villa and RotherhamThe Royals have had to contend with injury issues throughout the season, both long- and short-term. And going into an Easter weekend with two games in three days, manager Jaap Stam has decisions to make.
He revealed that it may require some ‘inventive’ thinking in picking teams to play two more gruelling games with such a short turnaround, beginning with a trip to Aston Villa on Saturday and then a return to Madejski Stadium to host Rotherham United on Easter Monday.
“We need to deal with the team that we have and the players that are available; we need to manage that over the course of the two games over the weekend, and how we’re going to be playing and which players are going to be starting those game,” Jaap said.
“It’s difficult for a lot of players to play two games in three days, so we need to be inventive in certain times as well.
“We need to think about Rotherham a little bit, because it comes very quickly. But the first game that we have to play is against Aston Villa, so that’s the most important game right now.”
A few of the players who have been absent in recent weeks are nearing a return – the gaffer gave updates on a number of them.
And he also revealed that Callum Harriott, who hasn’t yet played in 2017 after picking up a hamstring injury over the festive period, it edging ever closer to getting back involved.
“Tiago Ilori was on the bench against Leeds and came on for the last 20 minutes; after that, he felt his knee again and we couldn’t use him against Blackburn or Norwich,” Jaap said. “That’s why he wasn’t involved in the last couple – but hopefully he can be involved this weekend.
“Paul McShane and Stephen Quinn are still all out. Joey van den Berg is feeling better, he’s already on the pitch doing some work and hopefully he can join in one of the two games.
“It is frustrating when you’re out with a bad hamstring injury; Callum Harriott has been out for months. You always want to be part of the team, and towards the end of the season it would be nice if he can join in the squad and be involved.
“We’re working on that, and he’s working on that. He’s very eager to be involved again. He has been back in training at certain moments as well – it looks good and he feels good, and hopefully he can keep that up.
“He isn’t yet doing the 11 v 11 games, but he’s involved in the passing drills and the finishing – so that’s good for his confidence because he’s been out for a long time.”