Middlesbrough manager Jonathan Woodgate has identified George Puscas and Lucas Joao as Reading’s two major threats ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the two sides at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
The duo, who both made the switch to the Royals last month, have made a positive start to the 2019/20 Championship campaign under boss Jose Manuel Gomes.
Whilst Joao has found the back of the net on one occasion, Puscas is currently Reading’s joint top-scorer having fired in three goals in six appearances.
Boro, who are currently 18th in the second-tier standings, will be looking to pick up their second victory of the season at the weekend.
Although the Smoggies are currently on an unbeaten run of three games in the Championship, they can ill-afford to continue to drop points if they are to launch sustain push for a top-six finish over the coming months.
Speaking to the Hartlepool Mail about Boro’s opponents, Woodgate said: “Reading are going to be a good side moving forward.
“They spent a lot of money, especially on Puscas and Joao from Sheffield Wednesday.
“I actually saw Puscas in the summer watching the under-21s in Italy in the Euros.
“I went to the games, England versus Romania, I was watching a few players from Romania and I saw Puscas straight away, he was on loan last year at Palermo from Inter Milan, obviously a really top player.
“To bring him here we’d have had to spend a lot of money, obviously we couldn’t do that type of deal.
“Reading have done it, fair play – he’s a very, very good player.
The Royals paid a fee thought be in the region of £7.5m in order to secure the services of Puscas (via The Sun).
With Joao and Puscas already illustrating that they are more than capable of producing the goods at Championship level, it is imperative that Boro do everything they can to stop this duo on Saturday.
Whilst the Smoggies showed great courage to seal a 2-2 draw against Bristol City in their last outing, they were far from convincing in a defensive sense and thus this will have to be addressed by Woodgate.
Providing that they can take the game to Reading at the weekend, Boro could secure a confidence-boosting victory in-front of their own supporters.