Reading manager Veljko Paunovic has revealed Danny Drinkwater and Andy Yiadom missed last night’s clash at Millwall due to a soft tissue injury and Covid-19 respectively, speaking to Berkshire Live after the match.
Paunovic, who was isolating himself after testing positive for the virus after Saturday evening’s loss against AFC Bournemouth and joined the post-match press conference via Zoom, has had to endure a major injury crisis at the Select Car Leasing Stadium this season.
Even with six arrivals in the summer transfer window, the Royals were forced to put six academy players on the bench at The Den yesterday evening and started 19-year-old Tyrell Ashcroft at right wing-back in Yiadom’s absence.
Quiz: Have each of these 24 ex-Reading FC academy players ever played in the Premier League?
With no comprehensive injury update from Paunovic last week, keeping his cards close to his chest, it’s currently unclear whether this injury crisis will ease anytime soon and that’s even taking into account the upcoming international break.
Although this interval will give the likes of Alen Halilovic, Yiadom and Drinkwater to return as short-term absentees, the Royals need a miracle at this stage with many more players out and a potential nine-point deduction on the way for breaching the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules.
One bit of good news is the fact neither absentee from last night is expected to be out for too long, with Paunovic saying: “Drinkwater had a soft tissue issue which he couldn’t recover from but hopefully, we can have him back for Saturday.
“It’s not a significant injury but it’s something we have to monitor on a daily basis.
“Yiadom had to isolate due to Covid situation.”
The absence of another two key players was costly last night in the Royals 1-0 defeat, although many would argue otherwise because their replacements in Tom Holmes and Ashcroft did an admirable job in their absence.
Whichever way you slice it though, injuries are having a major impact and you can see that during the second half of games. Reading didn’t lack quality or effort in the second 45, they desperately lacked the energy to keep up with Millwall’s change of intensity after the interval.
That has to be the worrying thing for Paunovic with a lack of experienced options on the bench, but two positives can be taken from last night from a Reading perspective. The first of which was Ashcroft, because he stepped in admirably for his debut in a tricky fixture.
Secondly, the Royals actually looked dangerous at times in the first half and looked relatively comfortable with their new formation. This helps to give the Berkshire outfit’s manager different options in their upcoming fixtures and gives the whole team unpredictability against other second-tier sides.
This can only bode well for the future – and at a time when positivity is much-needed – this latest injury news and the ability to play multiple systems are two saving graces.