After picking up seven points from nine available, the Royals suffered a setback with a home defeat in midweek – so after the loss to Middlesbrough, midfielder John Swift hopes that Reading can play to their strengths again on Saturday when they go to Blackburn.
That will involve getting the ball on the deck, retaining possession, and trying to cut the opposition open… and while there’s no big prize riding on the game for either side, now that the play-offs are out of reach, he’s still expecting the Royals to treat the game with total respect.
“Blackburn are a good team – they’ll put us under a lot of pressure, like Middlesbrough did,” Swift said. “Hopefully we can cope a bit better – get the ball down and play. We went away from that a bit against Middlesbrough.
“When we played them at our place, we ended up losing the game. They’ve got some good players in their team. But we’re just focusing on us really. If we can tighten up our performance, play like we were before Middlesbrough, and keep our away form as it is – I’m sure we can come away with three points.
“We always want to push up the league, and win any game that we go into. I don’t think anyone is going out thinking ‘I can’t wait for this to be over so I can go on holiday!’ – that’s not the case at all!
“We’re training like we’re able to push into the top six. If we’re not able to, we’ll still push as high up the league as we can.”
For the first time in his career, Swift was labelled as the captain on the teamsheet when we beat Luton 5-0 earlier this month.
And he spoke about his delight at being awarded the armband – which he also kept in our home draw with Huddersfield and our away triumph in Charlton.
“I literally found out 20 or 30 minutes before I was going out for the warm-up!” he explained.
“It was as much a surprise to me as I think it was to everyone else. We’ve got Michael Morrison in the team, who I thought would be captain as he’d been captain at Birmingham before and he’s the old head in the team – he’s a centre-back and he talks a lot.
“But I was delighted when he said it and there was no hesitation in taking it. When you play at a top level and you’re offered the captain’s armband, it’s an honour. I’ve never been a captain in my career before – it made me feel like I had a bit more responsibility.
“That was the main part – you go out with a different mindset, which I’d never realised before. It was a good feeling. I don’t know the pressures of being the captain in a game of massive importance – maybe in my career I might get that feeling.
“But to do it at this stage in my career was fun, it was exciting. And if I’m ever captain again, then it’ll be a pleasure.”