With the restart of the season imminent, Reading’s final dress rehearsal went well with a 3-1 win against Portsmouth last Sunday at Madejski Stadium.
Midfielder John Swift – who himself originally hails from Portsmouth – was pleased with what was achieved against Pompey, including another opportunity to get up to speed with the demands of football before competitive football begins again.
“It’s good to be back out there with the boys, getting minutes into the legs before the season starts again,” Swift said. “And it’s good to get the win as well – when the games get going again, we need to get a lot of those!
“It’s a rehearsal of what we want to do. We go into these games taking them very seriously, because we want to get all the bad passes, bad touches, out of the way now. So when we go into the season, we’re ready.
“It was a good test of our mental strength. They sat off us a little bit and let us have a lot of the ball… it was good to get a goal early and then relax a little bit. We came out a bit sloppy in the second half and conceded, which made it a bit tougher for us. But they’re a good team and know how they want to play – when they kept the ball in the second half it was difficult to get near them.
“But it was a good test and nice to go up against a good team. And now a tough game against Stoke ahead.”
The run-in will be brutal – lots of points to play for in a short stretch of time, and a lot of opportunity for movement in the league standings.
First up – Stoke. As always, the next game is the most important.
“We’ve been off for a long time,” Swift continued. “We’ve had a couple of games and now we’re going into the game against Stoke… we wanted to get all the loose touches and bad passes out the way, because we know when we face Stoke, we’re playing for three points.
“It’ll be a difficult game, as they all are. And it’ll be different to play without fans. But this is our job – go out, get the three points that we need, and restart the season well.
“It’s going to be a tough run, tough on the bodies, and everyone in the squad is going to be needed. But in the Championship, you often have two games a week anyway.
“But I’m looking forward to it. I enjoy being out there and I want to go into the Stoke game ready, and give everything.”