Reading manager Veljko Paunovic hailed new signing Andy Carroll’s second-half impact after seeing his side rescue a 1-1 draw against Nottingham Forest yesterday, as he spoke to Berkshire Live.
Philip Zinckernagel’s powerful strike past Luke Southwood in the fourth minute looked as though it would be the start of a tough afternoon for the home side, who had failed to take the game to Steve Cooper’s men and would have gone 2-0 behind early in the second half if it wasn’t for Liam Moore’s block.
But the introduction of 32-year-old Carroll changed the game for the Berkshire outfit, coming on for captain Moore in the 61st minute in a change of shape and slotting in alongside George Puscas up top.
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He immediately set the hosts on the front foot, adding an imposing attacking threat up top after signing for the club on a two-month contract at the start of the week, having been a free agent since leaving Newcastle United on the expiration of his deal at St James’ Park in the summer.
The Royals equalised just three minutes after his introduction, with Scott Dann converting John Swift’s corner on the right-hand side and with that, stealing a point for Reading who may have been disappointed not to grab a winner after that.
A few players in particular were picked out for praise by supporters of the second-tier side, including Tom Holmes and Carroll who were vital for different reasons at either end of the pitch.
Commenting on the latter after the game, manager Paunovic said: “He brought a pedigree on the field, experience, fantastic leadership, he communicated with the guys around him and was capable of influencing them.
“He was very helpful and he gave a fantastic boost to our fans so that’s a cohesion we are looking to have and grow.
“As more players are coming back, more will add to that and I only see positives coming [from his signing].”
Carroll is a shrewd signing and he showed that against Forest. Not only will he score goals, but he will also be a great help to George Puscas who thrived when the ex-England international came on.
Puscas has struggled this season, failing to get his name on the scoresheet in any of his opening 18 games of the 2021/22 campaign, but this has been partly due to the fact he has played up front on his own.
It’s clear he isn’t suited to the lone striker role, so Paunovic playing two up top in his side’s upcoming fixtures could pay dividends for both the team and the Romanian international, who will be hoping to bring his shooting boots to midweek’s game against Sheffield United to get himself in and amongst the goals again.
But to be able to operate two up top with 19-year-old youth player Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan the next man in the pecking order, they ideally need to keep Carroll fit, something that’s easier said than done considering his injury record throughout his career.
He does look in good shape though, although it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the bench again on Tuesday night considering he only joined the club this week.