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Tiago: “These are career-defining moments…”

25 May 2017

Defender previews play-off final against Huddersfield

When Tiago Ilori joined the Royals in January, we were placed third in the Championship.  And it took a lot of hard work and perseverance to ensure that’s where we stayed – the dressing room never lost faith.

Having joined from Liverpool in the winter window, Ilori is now one game away from a return to the Premier League – Huddersfield are the final challenge on the gauntlet next Monday.

“It’s going to be a huge game; these are career-defining moments for people, and the club as well,” Ilori explained.  “We’re going to give it our all.

“It is a great opportunity – lots of people are watching it, it’s a big occasion, and of course everyone wants to play in the Premier League.  So it’s huge.

“We all have ambitions and we all want to climb as high as possible.  That starts with getting to the Premier League.”

The Portuguese-born defender hasn’t been a regular in the squad; an injury picked up early in his time at Madejski Stadium kept him out.  But he slotted seamlessly into the team in our two legs against Fulham.

Indeed, such are the high demands in training, he doesn’t feel that fitness will be an issue.  He knows it’s all about going in with the right approach and sticking to what the manager asks, and earning a result in this do-or-die game as they have so many times before this season.

“The training is intense – so fitness-wise, I feel great,” he continued.  “The more I play, the more confident I get and the more things will come off.  I feel good.

“Training has been great, so fitness won’t be a problem for anyone.  It’s about maintaining a level head and treating it as another game… we know the importance of it, but we’re going to play our game as we have all season, which is what’s brought us the success we’ve had.

“We’ll have a game-plan, and we have to stick to it and be confident in ourselves and each other, and know our qualities and believe in them too.

“We’ve proved throughout the season that we have quality and that we deserve to be here.  So I think we’ll take it as another game – knowing the importance of it, but we have a plan and we’ll stick to it.”

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