Gaffer chats about his options ahead of LeedsThe Royals went into the international break on the back of a 2-0 away win against Sheffield Wednesday – and in dribs and drabs, those players selected to play for their nations are heading back to Hogwood in time to prepare for our Saturday teatime fixture against Leeds United.
Manager Jaap Stam discussed the way that the squad members who remained back at base have been using their time during the past fortnight.
“We’ve used it like we always do – a lot of players left, because they had to play for their countries, some of the players who have had injuries have had opportunities to recover,” he said. “Certain players had the weekend off, and for the days when we were in, we trained well.
“We trained hard individually, but also as a team. It has been useful. Towards the end of this week you’re waiting for players to come back from international duty so that you can work towards the first game.
“You always try to prepare the players and the team as best you can. Players also need rest because it has been a tough season up until now. But now is the most important part of the season, and everybody knows that.
“We need to get everybody fit and as sharp as possible. But I don’t think we need to motivate the players – they know what is at stake. They need to enjoy this period because towards the end of the season, that’s when you can make the season.”
Even though Jaap hasn’t had all of his squad members at his disposal to work with over the break, he doesn’t feel that that will be a major hindrance to their preparation – much of the setup for the Whites will be variation on a theme.
He also discussed the likelihood of returns for a quartet of individuals who were sidelined against the Owls.
“It’s not the most ideal preparation for the game, but most teams have got the same problem. We’re still working towards that first game, and the players who have not been involved yet will get involved towards the end of this week.
“For the players that are here, we can make things clear about what we want to do towards that game against Leeds. The others will understand it too – it’s nothing too different to what we usually do and how we want to play, but there will be certain details we want to change a bit.
“George Evans is still out, but Jordon Mutch is back in the squad. Liam Kelly and Paul McShane are both back into the squad as well, so that’s looking quite good.
“We need to make a decision towards that game against Leeds about who we’re going to be playing.”