At his pre-match conference, Chris Hughton told the media the latest team news- including an update on Sam Baldock; assessed Reading’s season to date and the need to move away from the bottom three as quickly as possible.
Team news: “The good news is we don’t have any injury problems from the last game. The only one we’ll need to make a decision on is Craig Mackail-Smith, who’s fine at the moment but came off and missed the last game with a very slight hamstring problem. He’s a lot better now and it’s just whether we’re prepared to play him or rest him for another game, but we have everyone available who was involved in the last game.”
Sam Baldock: “He is out for the season; the good news that he doesn’t require surgery, but it’s a knee ligament injury that will keep him out for a few months. It’s a big blow, because this is a player who has done a great job for us after not always playing in his natural position. We’re very happy that he’ll make a good recovery, but it will take longer than what we’ve got left in the season. At this moment we’re looking at a three-month absence, but hopefully he’ll be ready for pre-season and go again in the next campaign.”
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Moving away from the bottom three and improving the away form: “When you’re a footballer manager or the powers to be at a football club, it’s very nervous stuff when you’re either in the bottom three or very close to the bottom three. It’s not a very comfortable feeling for anyone associated with the club, so all you want to do is get yourself away from that, which in some ways relieves the pressure. The pressure then comes from the next game that you play, but yes we would have taken the position we’re in now.
“Our home form has been good and our away ventures have been very close; two draws and then a loss at Bolton that most feel we probably didn’t deserve to lose. The home form has improved which is good, but now we’ve got two away games over the next week and it’d be nice to get something from them.”
Reading’s current league position: “I’m not surprised by where they are at the moment because it is so tough and I have managed two teams in this division; Birmingham and Newcastle, so I know this division very well and how difficult can be. I’m seeing Norwich now have an upturn in fortunes, but they went through a period where they found it very hard after having a really good start. What they have managed to do is turn that around and look very strong at the moment. It’s a tough division and if you look at the number of big former Premier League clubs that are in the Championship, there isn’t too much that surprises me, but any club that has a difficult time has an opportunity to turn that around and get back on to winning ways.”