While John Swift’s injury, picked up ahead of our trip to Wigan, will keep him out of action for a couple of games, there is some good news in relation to other recent absentees.
Sam Baldock was substituted with a hamstring complaint in our recent trip to Brentford, while Ovie Ejaria was ill when we went to Wigan. But Reading boss Mark Bowen confirmed that the duo could return to the side this weekend when the Royals host Birmingham City.
“Sam trained on Thursday for the first time, so he is in my thoughts for the weekend – but at the same time, it was the first time that he has been at 100 per cent training,” said Bowen.
“And Ovie is back in training, and he has got over the gastro illness that he had. So it’s nice to see him back in the frame as he’s such a massive player for us.”
With six fixtures in December and a New Year’s Day game too, having a squad that is fighting fit will be important. And Bowen is pleased from what he is seeing from those players who are not currently in the starting line-up as they prepare for any level of involvement when called upon.
“I look at the situation with my squad, and I am blessed because everybody is fighting for every single position,” he continued. “We aren’t a squad that relies on just a number of individuals to make us a threat.
“We’ve got people chomping at the bit to come into the side, which is pleasing and it creates healthy competition.
“It also puts a strong emphasis on the squad situation and on my staff to make sure that physically and mentally, the players that aren’t in the starting 11 are still ready at any given time.
“The shining example of that was Chris Gunter. For him to come through and step into a cauldron of an evening game against Leeds United and produce what he did, it showed not just his own attitude as an individual but also that we’re doing things well to get around the players and keep them focused for when they’re needed.”