READING FC boss Jose Gomes believes the battle for Championship survival could go down to the wire ahead of tomorrow’s relegation six-pointer against Rotherham United (3pm ko).

Both sides have collected 29 points from 33 games, but it is Rotherham who are in the drop zone by virtue of an inferior goal difference to the Royals.

Reading only stayed up last season with a 0-0 draw at Cardiff City on final day when Paul Clement was manager.

And it is a similar tale of struggle this season with Royals winning just six league matches and suffering 16 defeats including a 4-0 thumping at Sheffield United last time out.

However, Gomes was keen to play down the significance of tomorrow’s clash against the Millers, saying: “What happens on Saturday does not decide things.

“If we win we are not safe, and if we lose it does not mean that we cannot get back to a safe position.

“But we know that we are preparing for our most important game of the season. Even if it doesn’t decide things, it is very important game.

“In a few weeks the fight may be between three or four teams – we can find surprises in every round of games. Some teams that think they are safe now might think differently in a few weeks.

“Our players feel their responsibility and they feel the club’s problems. They know exactly how important this game is.

“We must give everything that we have inside us. We could win, lose or draw, but if you give your maximum, the chance of losing points is reduced.”

Reading Chronicle:

Liam Kelly went off injured after this tackle in the 4-0 defeat at Sheffield United.

Gomes has been given an injury boost with midfielders Liam Kelly and Ovie Ejaria both back in training after recovering from knocks.

However, Andy Rinomhota remains a major doubt and on-loan Saeid Ezatolahi may miss the rest of the season with a long-standing injury.

Anssi Jaakkola, Jordan Obita and Sam Baldock are also unavailable.

Royals have picked up two wins during Gomes’ 10 matches in charge including a 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers in their last home fixture.

And the Portuguese manager expects Paul Warne’s Millers to be a tough nut to crack.

“Rotherham are a strong, physical team,” he stated. “They are strong in the air and can play direct football. We must be prepared for that and, without any excuses, we must get the ball on the ground and play football.

“The players have been training well and showing their strength. Now we need to show in the game the same things that we have been showing in the week, their bravery, their hard work.

“Our focus is totally on the upcoming game and not on anything further. Our next game is the most important and we are putting 100% into it.”

He continued: “We are deciding who will be the best choice for this game, and we are preparing our ‘Plan B’ too. There can be situations where they win a free-kick in their half and the central defenders go forward to attack. It’s a different game and it demands different things. So we will be prepared for that.”

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