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McAnuff ready to tuck in at Christmas

Published: 23 Dec 2011 09:300 comments

JOBI McAnuff believes Reading are perfectly poised to take full advantage of a kind fixture list this Christmas.

Showing the way: Reading captain Jobi McAnuff.

Royals have the benefit of back-to-back home games next week with the visit of Brighton & Hove Albion on Boxing Day followed by Ipswich Town on New Year's Eve.

Brian McDermott's men then face the relatively short trip to South Wales to play promotion-rivals Cardiff City on Monday, January 2.

It means Reading will have little travelling to do during the congested spell. And that, says McAnuff, can only benefit their push for the play-offs.

Reading's skipper, who was instrumental in last weekend's victory at Leeds United, declared: "There aren't as many games as normal before Christmas this year which should give us a nice opportunity to get in a bit of rest.

"It also means we can get some work done so we will go into this period with a lot of confidence.

"We've got some good games coming up against teams around us in the table. There isn't much travelling involved so hopefully we can pick up a couple more results."

While those three games will be far from easy, Royals are joint-top of the current form league with five wins from their last seven matches.

They have also won four of their last five outings, with the only blip coming in a 1-0 defeat at Blackpool when Reading arguably deserved at least a point or possibly all three.

And McAnuff says winning runs like the one Royals are currently on can only boost confidence for what lies ahead.

"We're very happy after two massive results," declared the 30-year-old winger. "Beating West Ham was a great result but winning at Leeds was probably an even better one.

"To go to a really tough place like Elland Road and take on a very good team was fantastic.

"I believe we're confident whoever we play, and no occasion is too big for us. We seem to rise to the big games and I think we did that again against Leeds."

Perhaps most impressive last weekend was the fact Reading had to overcome a host of injury problems before a ball had been kicked at Elland Road.

Leeds legend Ian Harte pulled out with a sickness bug, while Jimmy Kebe and Noel Hunt failed fitness tests.

With left-back Joseph Mills already sidelined, Royals recalled Andy Griffin for the first time in three months, reshuffled their defence and midfield and were forced to name three players - Mikkel Andersen, Sean Morrison and Lawson D'Ath - on the bench who had never played a league game for the club.

To compound their troubles, Jem Karacan was forced off in the second half with a knock while Shaun Cummings played on despite dislocating his shoulder.

Nevertheless, Royals came through the test with flying colours thanks to Simon Church's excellent winner.

"It was a bit of a weird one," admitted McAnuff. "There were players being sick on the side of the training pitch so we had to draft others in.

"But from my point of view that is where I think we are so strong. Andy Griffin hadn't played in a long time but he came back on Saturday and I thought he was very good.

"Jay Tabb also had to come on for Jem Karacan and we always have players ready to play, I never feel we are weaker for it. Every player who comes in, no matter the situation, does as good a job as the person they have replaced.

"If we keep doing that then it will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season."

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