Reading manager Paunovic confirms star striker back in contention for Middlesbrough trip

Reading v Watford- Veljko Paunovic
Reading v Watford- Veljko Paunovic

Reading manager Veljko Paunović says star striker Lucas Joao is back in training and in contention to play on Saturday against Middlesbrough.

The Royals are looking to stop the rot of seven successive defeats against Boro and continue their super start to the season that has seen them win all four of their opening Championship fixtures.

“We took advantage of the international break to work on our fitness and our tactical development of our game and to improve overall,” said Paunović.

“I believe we are in the right spot now ahead of a busy couple of weeks.

“Lucas Joao has been training over the past two weeks so we will see if he’s ready for Saturday. We have to be smart with him moving forward.

“The others (injured players) are not returning to training anytime soon.”

The Royals have until Friday 5pm to sign players in the domestic transfer window, but Paunovic reiterated his content at his squad but didn’t rule out any incomings.

“Last minute signings are usual anywhere but we are not going to go crazy.

“We had a few come in last week.

“Alfa (Semedo) joined us in the first week and needed a bit of adjustment and getting to know his teammates but it was a quick adaptation. He’s very bright and intelligent. 

“Esteves has had less time with the team but he looks very good. His English is also good. I’m very happy with the two of them and it’s a matter of when a good group meets good guys, then it’s no problem. 

“We have three spots on our senior roster open. I’ve been approached by some free agents too so we will see moving forward.”

And the Serbian boss was full of compliments for his opposite number on Saturday, Neil Warnock.

“Warnock is a legend in English football,” he continued.

“He is very intense, and passionate and successful. We’re excited to compete against him and his team, it’ll be a tough game but we are ready. 

“What we have done so far is helpful but now it’s going to be a lot more busy. We are aiming to continue our good progress and good results.

“We’ll strive for the win and compete on Saturday. We know we have to be at our best and control what we can control.”

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