McDermott: Experience will help Reading FC in promotion push

Published: 16 Mar 2012 08:000 comments

READING FC boss Brian McDermott expects his experienced players to take a leading role in the title push over the 10 remaining games.

Reading manager Brian McDermott.

Reading climbed up to second in the Championship table on Tuesday night after drawing 1-1 at Doncaster Rovers in their rearranged match.

It leaves them a mere two points behind leaders Southampton, but McDermott's men could be top of the pile if results go their way this weekend.

Royals face a tricky fixture at Barnsley on Saturday while Southampton go to Millwall and West Ham face a daunting trip to Leeds United.

And McDermott believes there are enough winners in his squad with the experience to cope with the pressure of a promotion race.

"When you are in this position you need players who have been there and done it," he told the Chronicle. "We've got players who have won Championship titles and have had established careers in the Premier League.

"These guys know what they're doing and they're going to be very important for us from here on. When you are in our position, these things can make all the difference."

There is no doubt McDermott is referring to the likes of Reading defenders Kaspars Gorkss and Matthew Connolly who both helped QPR win the Championship title last season.

Mikele Leigertwood was also part of Neil Warnock's squad that went up before joining Royals initially on loan in January 2011.

Add to that the experience of skipper Jobi McAnuff and former Leeds United legend Ian Harte plus the spectacular success of recent Blackburn Rovers signing Jason Roberts, and McDermott appears to have found the perfect recipe for success.

"Every single player in my squad is available to me," he declared. "But there's no doubt it helps when you have been in a similar position before and know how to get the job done.

"There are no big-time Charlies in our dressing room. Every game is a job to do for us, that's how we see it. We've got a working class team who put in a tremendous amount of hard work. Hopefully the rewards will follow."

And he also insisted: "I don't think the pressure of being second in the table is any different. The player are relishing and enjoying every moment of it. We've put ourselves in a great position where we can have a shot at promotion."

The turnaround at Madejski Stadium since the beginning of the season has been staggering. Royals were beaten 2-1 at home by Barnsley in August during a run that left them one place off the bottom of the table.

But they are currently unbeaten in nine games including eight victories and are the form team in the division.

"We let Shane Long and Matt Mills go last summer and it was a struggle after all that had gone on," recalled McDermott.

"All I wanted then was to make us competitive and no-one can say we aren't that. This group has already given us another good season, and it is not finished yet. There are 10 games to go, Barnsley is the next one and we will keep doing our best."

With Jimmy Kebe set to return from injury this weekend, Reading will also be keen to settle an old score with the Tykes.

"We didn't deserve to lose that game in August," argued McDermott. "We gave a couple of goals away including one from a set play. But we created a lot of chances and were unlucky to lose.

"There has been a lot of change since then and Saturday is a different game so we must focus on that and nothing else."

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