Injury problems continue to mount for Reading boss Paul Ince ahead of Preston North End clash
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Like North End, they played on Tuesday night and are set to play their third game in a week. Ince’s side however have a game next midweek, when the Lilywhites will be able to get in a bit of rest before their final game before the World Cup break.
The tournament has caused a huge condensing of the fixture schedule, meaning sides have been playing two games a week most weeks since the start of the season in July.
Ince was forced to use a makeshift back three in his side’s 0-0 draw at Luton on Tuesday and could be without another defender for Friday’s game.
The 55-year-old is confident the upcoming games, including PNE, are winnable for his side but feels he is up against it with their injury issues.
He said: "It's mad. I think it's just madness. You’re asking the same players to go to the wall. When you’re asking the same players to play four games in 11 days it is unfair.
"They’re not robots, they’re human beings. Unless you've got a big squad where you can change things around, which we can't, then it's always tough. I believe if we play the way we can, we can go anywhere and put in a good performance.
"They [upcoming] games are ones we can win so I’m not worried, but I’m worried about injuries. Tom Holmes has a sore calf, he did well to last the game against Luton, so they’re piling up. We haven't got any backup in that area."
"Tom McIntyre might have a chance [for the Preston game]. It was a neck injury, but he will train on Thursday and hopefully he will be back on Friday against Preston, which is another tough game.
"We could do with the rest, but these players dig in and they fight, and they bounce back, like against Luton."
Reading were one of the early pace setters in the division but now find themselves a little bit off the pace. They’ve slipped to mid table but just one win could see them jump straight back into the play-off places.
It’s been somewhat of a surprise start for the Berkshire club who many tipped to be fighting it out at the other end of the table.
They have been led by Tom Ince, son of boss Paul, whose four goals and three assists leads the way in both departments. The performances of the tricky winger go a long way to deciding whether or not Reading are successful, though they have other threats at their disposal.
Former North End loanee Andy Carroll is a huge threat in the air and a big task for the visiting backline should he start – wearing the no.2 – with Shane Long also back at Reading and an old tormenter in Lucas Joao still more than capable of punishing PNE.
The Lilywhites have won just once in their last nine against Reading, losing seven. But runs such as those must end at some point...