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Paunović: “I see the challenge and want to secure the play-offs” says Reading boss ahead of Watford clash

Veljko Paunovic
Luton Town v Reading Veljko Paunovic

Reading manager Veljko Paunović is ‘excited’ ahead of the most important period in the Royals’ season as they face fellow promotion hopefuls Watford on Friday night.

“This is the best moment of the season, we created this opportunity for ourselves and the matches ahead of us are very exciting,” said Paunović.

“Playing against teams at the top of the table defines the moment and the importance of the games.

“We are in the final stage of our quest to qualify for the play-offs.

“We have to be ruthless in the opposition box and solid defensively in our box with the mentality to protect our goal. We have to be solid and composed. 

“I see the challenge in front of me and I want to go for it and want to secure the play-offs.

“There are more contenders, teams like Cardiff and Middlesbrough are still fighting.

“Last game Cardiff didn’t get a result to prove that but it’s one game, one slip. They will still keep fighting. As long as you have a chance, you have to fight for those.

“We only focus on ourselves and what we can control.

“We are determined and we go to our games with a plan and look to execute our strategy. The mentality is very important.”

Paunović confirmed that he is expecting to have Omar Richards available for selection after he came off with injury against Derby County, and provided injury updates on his other affected players.

“He (Omar Richards) got a knock on his foot in the game against Derby. He is fine and trained today he will be available for Friday against Watford.

“John Swift is progressing very good and other than that everyone else is in the same situation. 

“Michael Morrison is still out and will be out for the rest of the regular season but will be back for the play-offs.”

The Serbian boss also gave an insight into his decision to drop Lucas João in favour of George Pușcaș for Reading’s win over Derby in which both strikers found the net.

“It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make,” he continued.

“But I wouldn’t give any credit to me, it’s more to the team and to the individuals, in this case Lucas and George Puscas.

“We need the guys to understand their roles.

“He (Lucas) had to press the restart button. Take the pressure off his shoulders because we’ve relied on him nearly every game this season. That rest helped him and helped the team.

“We communicated the decision to the players so they can understand what is going on. We communicate everything.”

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