The Wokingham Paper

Mark Bowen on: Derby County, busy Christmas schedule, injury updates, Loader contract situation and more

Mark Bowen

READING manager Mark Bowen says he wants to see a ‘siege mentality’ on Saturday when they host Derby County at the Madejski Stadium.

On the Derby game…

“They are a team that is vulnerable and are finding it tough at the moment, we know they’ve got quality but they’re going through a period where they are brittle. We say that guardedly because I wouldn’t say we are in a rich vein of form ourselves. It’s all about starting fast, being confident and taking our game to them. 

“Everyone knows how close this league can be, it may be down to bad luck, the margins are so small. We came out of the Barnsley game disappointed with the way we played because we want to win and then you look and see that they scored 5 in the next game against QPR, that is the nature of this league. You try to narrow down the percentages to give you the best chance of winning.

Aims for the season…

“I look to the squad that I’ve got, I’m glass half full and I say that we want to be pushing for the play-offs and why would any supporter want to hear anything different. We can and should be trying to do that. We’ll have periods of loss of form, injuries, but we’ve got enough here. Like at the end of a difficult week we still managed to pick up two away points. 

We’ve got Saturday and then another four games in 10 days, so were going to be stretched like every team is and we’ll make sure squad players will get enough game time and working at a high intensity so they can step right in. 

Injury updates to Swift, Yiadom, Puscas and Miazga…

“John Swift looks like he will be available for the weekend, he’s been playing freely and has had a number of training sessions, we’ve got to have one eye on exactly how fit he is. He’ll want to lay every minute of every game, we’ve got to look at the risk factor but I fully expect him to be available and play some part on Saturday. 

It’s good-ish news with George Puscas. He saw a specialist and we thought he’d need an operation which I’m told would have kept him out for three months, he’s seen them and will again tomorrow but the initial thinking is if it settles down and keeps improving, he’ll get away with having injections and strapping it up and having treatment on it for the foreseeable future.

Matt thought he pulled his hamstring in one of the warm ups, he had a scan on Monday and it came back neutral other than maybe a bad case of delayed muscle soreness. He can still feel it a little bit, but matt being matt, he’s telling the physios not to rule him out for Saturday. But he hasn’t trained yet this week, I’ll have to make a decision tomorrow. 

Andy Yiadom might be out until the end of January, Chris is doing a solid job at the moment and teddy is waiting for his chance. 

Falling attendances…

“Everyone wants to see a full stadium and to have the atmosphere, but I know the ones that do come in are really passionate and get behind the team. We want to get more bums on seats and that’s what we’ve got to try and do. We’re aware of questions being asked of the team like at stoke where we didn’t have a shot on target and we’ve got to try and rectify that and play more dynamic and get it into the strikers quicker. It works both ways, we’ve got 14 or 15 in 10 games whereas before I came it was 11 in 11 so we haven’t struggled to score. 

I’m very much aware, people want to come and see their team attack, create chances and score goals. We will try and rectify that this week. 

Busy Christmas fixture schedule…

“The fact that the players are giving up precious time with their families, we want them to make it worthwhile and get three points on the board. If you make those sacrifices, it doesn’t seem so hard if you’ve got that feel good factor which will compensate for it. 

There won’t be many days off coming, the day after the players who play we limit to just a warm down but we have to keep on top of the players who haven’t had as much game time. At this moment we will be in on Christmas day, we might start a bit earlier so they get home earlier, we’ve got to come in and do the work. 

Opportunities for Loader, Olise and Barrett…

“As individuals at times I’m looking to see more from the young players, with their work rate out of possession. There’s no doubting, every player at the club, whether it be Josh Barrett, Danny Loader or Michael Olise, when they’ve got the ball at their feet, they are special young players. It’s about trust, the manager has to trust when they haven’t got the ball what you are getting from them. I judge them a lot on that. 

January transfer window targets and Danny Loader contract situation…

“We’ve talked about where we can strengthen things going forward. We’re looking at where we can improve and who possibly might go out if a bid comes in for a player. 

An offer has been put in front of him (Danny), him his family and his advisers are still considering that offer.”

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