The end of last season was strange. The summer has been hot and hectic. But pre-season is now officially over as the Royals prepare for competitive action this weekend when Colchester United come to town for the First Round of the Carabao Cup.
New manager Veljko Paunović took a flight to Europe from Chicago late last month, met his new squad in the Algarve last weekend and arrived in Reading when he flew back from Portugal on Wednesday afternoon – but as he continues to strictly adhere to the UK government’s routine quarantine guidance, Paunović will not take his seat in the dugout this weekend.
The Serbian boss will be able to visit Bearwood Park and coach his first team players for the first time on Tuesday morning – when we naturally hope to bring you updates, images from the session and a full interview with the new man at the helm.
However, for this weekend’s game only, Assistant Manager Eddie Niedzwiecki has been asked to take the team in Paunović’s absence and will be the man in the first team technical area tomorrow.
He will oversee a knockout tie that has to be decided on the day - against League Two opposition in Colchester United.
Steve Ball’s side begin their league campaign next weekend when they travel to Bradford City, but they will have their sights set on causing another upset in this competition on Saturday when they arrive at Madejski Stadium.
Last season, the U's knocked out two Premier League sides in this very competition – beating both Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur on penalties to make their way to a quarter-final clash against Manchester United.
Their last competitive action came in June when they lost a two-legged playoff semi-final against Exeter City to fall just short in their bid for promotion to the third tier.
The tie could see a few familiar faces return to Madejski Stadium. Former Royals winger Callum Harriott is on the U's books and could play a part this weekend, while ex-Reading loanee Hayden Mullins has only recently left Watford to join the coaching staff at the Colchester Community Stadium.
The match will be played behind closed doors of course. But we are hoping that it is not too long until we can open our doors again to welcome our fans back to Madejski Stadium. Until that time, iFollow is the way to track all of the action as it unfolds at our matches, home and away.
And during the period when our games are available to watch on iFollow, Match Passes for our Carabao Cup and league games are available for £10 for all supporters in the UK and Ireland.