Reading manager Mark Bowen has provided fans with an update on how his side is training in preparation for the Championship restart on 20 June.
Clubs in the second-tier have just completed their second week back at training, and for Bowen it was an important week as he slowly integrates his side into a more normal routine:
“We’ve got a bit more contact into the training this week,” he told www.readingfc.co.uk. “Before now we’ve been training individually and now this week we have progressed into 4v4 situations.
“That’s when you can see the players thriving. They’re more used to it, and they feel like they’ve done better work. That competitiveness comes into it a bit more.”
Teams in the Championship have nine games of the the season left to play – 27 points left to play for. Reading are in a position where they’re looking up the table though, sitting just eight points behind Preston in 6th-place.
Bowen is hoping that his side can hit the ground running when they face Stoke City later in the month, and the Welshman is aiming to play one or two friendly fixtures before they resume league duty.
“There are always little problems for the coaches to deal with, but you embrace it and progress forward, with the aim of hopefully getting one or two friendly matches in before we go into the final week in the build up for Stoke City,” he explained.
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Bowen’s initial Reading appointment angered a lot of fans, but in what is his first tenure as a manager rather than an assistant or coach, he’s quickly adapted to his new role.
He’s managed to pull Reading away from the drop zone after Jose Gomes’ dismal start to the season, and now has his sight’s on a late surge for the top-six.
“We’re all in it together, for the love of the game,” Bowen concluded. “We have to make sure that we get things right, make sure we’re as safe as possible and get football started again. We are in strange times – and we’ll embrace anything that’s thrown at us.”
Optimism is quietly rife amongst Reading fans as they near the season’s resume. One of the defining factors of the club is their strength in depth – something that could well set them apart from the rest in these final nine games.
But there’s plenty of work still to do, and plenty of teams to leapfrog if Reading are to steal a place in the play-offs.
Bowen has proved a lot of people wrong so far. Many expected Reading to succumb to an easy relegation after appointing an unproven sporting director as manager, but nobody could’ve foreseen the optimism that he would reinstate at the club.
They’ll make for an interesting watch in the final nine games, and don’t be surprised if they do end up snatching a spot in the top-six over the next few weeks.