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⚔️ "Everyone is in combat mode, everyone is ready and we will do our very best"

Royals boss Veljko Paunovic spoke ahead of a massive clash against the Cherries on Friday night...

28 January 2021

It's a meeting of two teams vying for a top six spot. And it's going to be played out in front of the live Sky Sports cameras. The Royals are ready.

"It’s a very important game because we are playing against another top six contender," the Royals boss began.

"And the top six is where we want to remain in the coming months as we go into the final stretch of the season.

"A win tomorrow night would give us a certain edge, recover the edge that we lost when we were defeated there earlier in the season.

"So we are aware of the importance of the game, everyone is in  combat mode and we will do our best."

Bournemouth come into the game with a cup win in midweek behind them and the Cherries know victory at the Madejski could see them leapfrog their hosts on Friday night.

"They are confident, experience, they have quality in attack, midfield and defence and as a squad they have a good approach to every game.

"But I think we are also in a good spot and we are a more mature and better prepared team than when we met them first time around this season.

"We looked at the data from that game again and we realised that our pressure as a team at the beginning of the seconed half, dropped significantly.

"We also found some tactical components in our game were missing too – these were the reasons we went from a fantastic performance in the first half, to losing our consistency.

"I also think we thought the game was over at half-time. At that point, we had a more immature approach. But we have learned and we know this can’t happen again.

"I’m happy with the training, happy with everything I’ve seen from the players this week, happy to see the guys coming back from injury and growing the team.

"Tomorrow is going to be a big test. But this team when faced with challenges, always responded well in the past. Tomorrow is another very big challenge and we will be ready for it.

"It’s a special game. And although the players don’t need motivating ahead of a game like this, it always needs some fine-tuning – you don’t want to start on the back foot, but you don’t want the players to be too excited and burn out.

"So we have to start strong, start with everyone on the same page."

With such a mouth-watering match scheduled for Friday night, it feels even more of a shame that the game will be played out in an all-but-empty stadium.

"It would have been wonderful to see fans in the stadium for a game like this – I’m sure it would have helped us a lot," Pauno said.

"But it is what it is. And I am also sure there are ways our fans can give us support – on social media, watching us on the TV or listening to the game on the radio, it’s great to feel that support.

"And it is the fans' support that is going to carry us through this difficult period."

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