José Gomes says he and the Royals have spent plenty of time hard at work on the training ground during the international break, as Reading gear up to face Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.
With the squad's international players now back in training at Hogwood, preparations for the trip to the Riverside have begun in earnest.
After eight matches in 28 days to open up the season, Gomes says the Royals remained hard at work while several squad members were away on international duty.
“We had a chance to work more with the players that stayed, it was very hard work in a few days," the Reading manager said. "They also had the chance to rest and recover from the busy month, so we must find energy again for the upcoming games.
“We have another very tough game on Saturday, and in this time, during the national team break, it was very important to improve a lot of things.
“With the teams we play, a lot of things change from last season, so Middlesbrough are a different team. But we know, like all the games in the Championship, it will be difficult but with a different kind of challenge, comparing with last season’s squad.
“It’s always difficult to play over there, everybody knows it. We know what kind of challenge they have – they have different players, a different style, but they breathe the same club spirit.
“It will be a tough game – we are expecting this. We are preparing for it, we have been working very well so I expect my players will follow our defensive plan, and I’m sure we will be ready to face them.”
With a start of seven points in six matches, Gomes and his squad hope to use the next run of fixtures to kick-start their league campaign as we head into the autumn months and the season begins to settle down.
Gomes went on to speak of the importance of having positive characters and influences within the squad, with the international break allowing time for the players to bond further.
“I said this a few weeks ago but we have very good players, but also we have very good people," he elaborated. "When you have good people, everything is easier. It’s easier to work with them, it’s nice and it’s important for the staff.
“We realise that they are buying into our ideas, and the players have been showing this during this time.
“In the last games that we’ve travelled, we’ve felt this love and support from our fans. I’m sure they like to travel and support us, I’m sure they will repeat this during all our away games this season.”