Queens Park Rangers’ late equaliser against Reading summed up the Royals’ 2021/22 campaign so far.
Nothing seems to be going right for them at the moment after winning just one of their opening six Championship games, conceding three or more goals in five of their competitive games thus far and a sizeable injury list already building up after Andy Rinomhota was ruled out of yesterday’s tie with a minor ankle injury.
Some would argue this is a continuation from the latter stages of last season with injuries and poor form – but the Berkshire outfit had their electric start to the 2020/21 campaign to guide them to a respectable seventh-place finish.
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This term, things couldn’t be any different and this could make Tuesday night’s clash against fellow strugglers Peterborough United a crucial one for Royals manager Veljko Paunovic who’s job could be firmly under pressure at this stage.
His predicament wasn’t helped by Stefan Johansen’s stoppage-time equaliser to make it 3-3 yesterday afternoon, after being 3-1 up against Mark Warburton’s men in the 77th minute.
This has compounded the Berkshire side’s misery, but there are a couple of positives they can take from this weekend’s draw and we have listed just two of those.
Baba Rahman escaping injury
Seeing Baba Rahman in the starting lineup was a huge boost for a Reading side who hadn’t recruited a replacement for Omar Richards until the Chelsea loanee arrived from Stamford Bridge last month.
He spent the international break with Ghana, prompting fears that he may pick up an injury whilst with the African nation or even sustain a knock on his return to the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Although they had little choice but to start Rahman after conceding four at the John Smith’s Stadium against Huddersfield Town, many Reading fans were praying he would get through the 90 minutes with no problems.
Thankfully for the second-tier outfit, he did. And the Ghanaian will be in line to start again against Peterborough United on Tuesday night. It will be interesting to see how he’s managed though – because an injury to him could make Reading’s situation worse as their only senior left-back.
Tom Dele-Bashiru providing something different in the middle
After a sluggish start to the campaign from Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent in midfield, who were both very reliable in midfield last term and two of the club’s better players, competition for the duo has been much-needed to maintain performance levels and provide cover for injuries.
Although Danny Drinkwater wasn’t quite fit enough to make the matchday squad yesterday, another summer arrival in Tom Dele-Bashiru started alongside Josh Laurent in the middle in the absence of Andy Rinomhota, and was good enough to retain his place for Tuesday night’s game.
The 21-year-old spent the majority of last season out with an anterior cruciate ligament and after being sent out on loan by parent club Watford, he will be keen to make up for lost time and show why he should be competing in the top flight with the Hornets.
This can only be a good thing for the Royals, who need to win their midfield battles to drag themselves up the Championship table. And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Rinomhota benched in favour of the Watford loanee because of the promise he showed in the last game.