Reading FC manager Veljko Paunovic says George Puscas “will be very important” for the Royals in the second half of the season amid rumours that the striker could depart the Select Car Leasing Stadium this month.

Puscas has endured a torrid time since arriving at the club in 2019 but after finally getting off the mark for the season in the Championship with a well-taken goal against Huddersfield Town on Saturday, Paunovic believes the best is yet to come.

There have been plenty of rumors that Puscas may leave the club this January, but Paunovic clearly sees him as an important piece of the puzzle although he admitted that in football “anything can happen”.

“Puscas is our player and I've said through all this time that he will be important for us and he will score goals,” Paunovic said after the 4-3 defeat to Huddersfield.

“I’m happy that in this difficult month he’s contributed with two goals and today his first league goal. I think he just opened his scoresheet for this season and it’s only going to get better. But in football, anything can happen, especially in the transfer window. But nothing has changed.”

The 25-year old played alongside Lucas Joao, himself in the starting XI for the first time since August, and both forwards found the net in a first half that ended 3-3.

Danny Ward made it 4-3 after the break to give the Terriers all three points but the increased attacking potency was certainly a positive amidst the wreckage of yet another defeat.

“Very good for Lucas (Joao) in practically his first appearance since the second game of the season,” Paunovic said. “Coming back in this shape, it’s very good - for him and for the team.

“And I’m very happy for Puscas - he had his best performance today since I’m here. Scored the goal, fantastic mentality, fight, cohesion with Lucas and Swift. He worked very hard in defence and put a lot of pressure on their defence off the ball. I think that was a big win for us.

“I think the whole team in attack…we brought the ball (forward) much better and we played forward much better. But yes, for sure it helps to have Lucas Joao next to you because he can also intimidate and get the respect from the opponent.”

The defeat to Huddersfield was Reading’s fourth-straight loss and they now have no victories in their last seven Championship matches. They are back in action next weekend against QPR at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.