READING FC boss Veljko Paunovic challenged young forward Femi Azeez to keep goal-shy striker George Puscas on his toes.

Puscas has been a first-team regular this campaign following a long-term injury to Lucas Joao, while Azeez was out for several weeks before returning to action against Barnsley.

The Romanian forward has endured a barren spell in front of goal and is yet to score a single goal this season.

He has come under criticism from supporters too since his big money move from Italian giants Inter Milan two seasons ago.

Puscas was replaced by Azeez just after the hour mark against The Tykes, and boss Paunovic admitted: “The relief came after Femi stepped on the field and started to provide the runs we needed.

“It’s not that we didn’t have it before but it was much more extenuated because he was fresh and very excited to return from injury.

“He stretched the defence and that gave us opportunities to keep the ball and create opportunities.

“When you have depth you always look for competition. You want everyone on their toes.

“Femi coming back is going to help the team. It will increase the competition which is important and it’s going to give the team more solutions and options to win.

“When you have players coming back you will be more competitive and more competent.”