JOSE Gomes is increasingly confident Reading FC will retain their Championship status this season.

Royals have won only twice in 11 Championship games under Gomes since the Portuguese replaced Paul Clement on Boxing Day.

A 1-1 home draw with relegation-rivals Rotherham United last weekend was another blow after Royals were pegged back in the last 10 minutes.

A win would have put them three points above the drop zone, but they are now locked with the Millers on the same number of points with goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three.

Gomes spoke at length today about the club’s prospect of survival ahead of another six-pointer at improving basement boys, Ipswich Town, this Saturday (3pm ko).

A potential points target, tough month of March, Ipswich Town’s new system and the mood in the training camp were all on the agenda.

He also gave an injury update ahead of the clash at Portman Road, with Andy Rinomhota among those not set to travel.

Finally, Gomes also spoke passionately about scouting non-league talent, creating a pathway for Academy players into first-team, Danny Loader, Sone Aluko and Financial Fair Play.

Every word from the Reading FC boss right here:

Gomes on big month ahead and points target: “Sometimes me and my staff talk about it. We cannot hide things aren’t like they are. We have 12 games left of the season and we know how many points we need to achieve our goals.

“But this conversation must stay between me and my staff. The idea is to think game-by-game and bring three points from Ipswich. Afterwards, we talk again.

“You can talk about five games in March, but it’s just a conversation. If we don’t win the first one and everyone else does, it can quickly change. If we win it doesn’t matter what happens around us, we will stay in this position. Our future is in our own hands but we cannot think more than Saturday’s game against Ipswich.”

Gomes on nervous times for Reading FC: “Each week that passes I am more convinced and secure we will get what we want. There is a very positive environment around the players, the intensity in training, the happiness you can feel in everything they do. All these are positive signs for games. We just need to be there, to arrive on Saturday, and play our game. It doesn’t matter we are away.”

Gomes on Andy Rinomhota ankle injury and who can replace him: “After the Sheffield United game (4-0 away defeat), I thought there was a tactical problem that it didn’t work, but I cannot say this about the previous game against Rotherham.

“We controlled the ball in the middle, we won second balls, we played better than them. The point was in the beginning of the second half we dropped off too much. It wasn’t a 'number six' problem, I think it was a mental problem where the players thought it was the best way to protect the points.

“I think Lewis Baker, John Swift and Ovie Ejaria resolve this problem very well with intelligence and organisation. All are different to Andy Rinomhota, but they resolve the problems. They also have things maybe Andy doesn’t have.

“We can see Swift, Ovie and Baker recovering balls. They can make good passes and participate in our offensive action in a positive way. I don’t think it was a problem in the previous game regarding the number six position.”

Gomes on Andy Rinomhota’s new deal: “Since I arrived he played 90 minutes during all the games and in different positions before he got injured. He’s a very serious kid, he likes to work and he wants to improve. He has dedicated his life to football so he deserves it.”

Gomes on Rinomhota’s rise from non-league Portchester United and the gems that can be found: “I like (looking at the lower divisions) but right now I don’t have any time to watch other clubs.

“Sometimes there are talents around who just need a chance to show themselves. We have a very good scouting department so if there is any talent nearby I think they will find it.”

Gomes on what he is doing to improve Reading’s strike rate in front of goal: “We practice, but in the previous game, for different reasons, the quality movement of our players up front wasn’t the best they can do, they can do better individually.

“They can hold up the ball better, shoot better, turn better, dribble better - and I think they will do it in the next game.”

Gomes on the mood in training this week: “It’s been very good, very positive in all the sessions. Before our first session I talk to them and reinforced that I am confident and I trust in their ability.

“I ask them again to play like we can play under our process. If something happens it is my responsibility, so enjoy the game and play football. I am sure they will give us a stronger picture of what they can do as football players.”

Gomes on what he expects from Paul Lambert’s Ipswich Town: “If you look at them, up until Aston Villa (lost 2-1 away) they played one way but after they changed, even their system changed.

“We do not know what their manager is planning, but we know they play a different way. We know they have strong things and weak things and we know how to protect against the strong things and how to explore the weak things.”

Gomes on breaking down teams like Rotherham United who sit deep: “In our first meeting at the beginning at the week, I showed them different tactics and tried to give them courage to play like we did in the first half down the lines with a passing game in their half.

“In the second half we dropped too much and gave them space for the Rotherham players to make long passes because there was no opponent in front of them. They understand, they know what they must do. We do this in training and expect them to do it in the next game.”

Gomes on bring Academy players into the first team: “I am working with them in the week. Omar Richards is still working with us, Danny Loader, Ryan East, Josh Barrett, sometimes a central defender, sometimes even the Under 18 kids train with us.

“I prefer to look at them when they are close to me rather than watch videos. If they work with me I get a better opinion. I like working with them and I really believe it is better for the future of the club if we reduce the number of professional players and find some space to bring in four or five Under 23 or Academy players to give a dynamic to the system and Academy and give hope to the other kids.

“If you bring in professional players at the top you block everything. These kids look up and say ‘no, I cannot go there.’ So if you bring young players to the squad it is a big hope for everybody. And, of course, they must have quality and we have kids with quality.”

Gomes on Danny Loader’s hat-trick for Reading FC U23s at Manchester United U23s on Monday: “Danny Loader has been working with us every day. I didn’t like some things he did in some games. I said he needed to catch his confidence to shoot at the goal again.

“He really used this game in the proper way by scoring three goals against Manchester United. I was very happy. I saw the video and they played very well.

“I cannot allow these young players to find space in their brain to think they are not at the same level as the other players, I cannot accept this. If you are here, I don’t care if you are 16 or 17 or 19 or 20, if you are white or black, if you are from France, I don’t care.

“If you do the things I ask, you will play. It doesn’t matter if there’s an international player in your position, I don’t care. The moment I give you the chance you must use it. If I play an offensive striker or winger and he plays back all the time and is afraid to shoot, it’s better to play a defender.

“I push him (Loader). If you miss the shot, no problem, but you must try. He did very well on Monday, he’s a good kid and very professional.”

Gomes on Sone Aluko’s loan move to Beijing Renhe for the rest of 2019: “We are living under Financial Fair Play so for him I suppose it is a very good thing with his salary and financial conditions. For the club it will help a lot because his are important numbers in our budget.

“I think it was the best solution for everybody. His loan will finish in January. Maybe if he plays well over there they will give him more money and more money to Reading, but it’s speculation right now.”

Gomes on the financial health of Reading FC: “We are taking very good steps regarding this, if you see the number of players we have moved on or tried to loan to reduce the number of players in the squad. The idea must be the same.

“We must bring in very good quality players, reduce the numbers and create space for the Academy players. This way Financial Fair Play will be solved.”


Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (calf), Sam Baldock (thigh) and Anssi Jaakkola are all back in the gym but still unavailable.

Saeid Ezatolahi (thigh) is training outdoors, but Andy Rinomhota (ankle) and Jordan Obita (knee) remain sidelined.