Veljko Paunović was left thoroughly impressed following Lucas João’s reintroduction to the Royals eleven, during Saturday’s 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town.
João notched twice to turn the contest on its head at the John Smith’s Stadium, with a clinical finishing display on his first Reading start since early December.
The Royals boss was encouraged by the Portuguese forward’s match fitness, and how he took his chances to cap a second-half performance deserving of all three points in West Yorkshire.
He said: “His performance was fantastic. I was positively impressed with his fitness, and how after three weeks out with an injury, he comes back with this performance, and this sharpness which would usually take players a couple of games to achieve.
“He didn’t have it in him to play the full 90 minutes, but in the 80 minutes he did play, he played an almost perfect game.
“The two goals are proof of his improvement, his mentality and his willingness to wait for his opportunity, even when we are facing adversity, when things don’t go our way and we’re a goal behind, he was capable and patient when waiting for his opportunity to come which was great.”
Pauno revealed João was keen to stay on in search of his hat-trick, however he soon pulled up with cramp that led to his withdrawal from proceedings.
He concluded: “I said as he came to celebrate in the dugout, to go and score the third one, but we also needed to rest him. It was a great team performance, and tactically and mentally, I’m very proud of the team.”