Friday, 10 July 2020

Reading still aiming for top six finish

READING assistant manager Eddie Niedzwiecki says they have not given up hope of securing a play-off place once the Championship season resumes.

The Royals are in 14th place, eight points outside the play-off places, with nine games to play.

Stoke City will be their next opponents at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, June 20.

Niedzwiecki told Henley Standard columnist Tim Dellor on BBC Radio Berkshire that his players will be looking to get off to the best possible start.

He said: “You have to have that ambition and drive. As the old adage says, we will take it one game at a time. There are tough games ahead but if we get off to a great start then let’s have those dreams. Hard work makes dreams come true.”

Niedzwiecki said the players were looking in “good shape” after a couple of weeks of training but admitted the coaches had had to put their thinking caps on.

He said: “It has been quite hard to organise training and we have had to be very innovative. We are only bringing in five players at one time, which has been very restrictive.

“Since [last] Wednesday we have been doing contact training, which has been a great help because people want to get up against one another and challenge themselves.

“It has been a challenge but we have been taking it head on and the lads have been very good. We are glad to be back in the contact stage of training, I must admit.”

The Football League has said that clubs will be able to use up to five substitutes rather than the usual three per game to avoid injuries and keep players fresh if temperatures soar.

Niedzwiecki said: “I’m sure that’s of great benefit to the manager. Obviously one of the hardest things he has to do is pick his squad and team every week. That will make it a little bit more comfortable for us. I think it will help enormously.”

He added that fans should expect some “strange” results after the restart.

“We all start with high expectations,” said Niedzwiecki. “We are all in the same boat and we all have to get on with it and let’s hope we get some luck and get some positive results. It was a shame that when the virus hit as we were on a half-decent run. Now it’s up to us to go again.”

• Stoke manager Michael O’Neill has tested positive for coronavirus after the latest round of testing on Monday and is now in a period of isolation.

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