Preston North End boss Alex Neil’s expecting a right Royal battle at Reading
Preston boss Alex Neil has not yet met Reading counterpart José Gomes but he already has the Scotsman’s respect.
Gomes, a widely-travelled coach, landed the Royals job in December.
The Berkshire club turned to the Portuguese to help them try and avoid relegation.
Reading currently sit a place and a point above the bottom three, the battle to beat the drop as intensive as the one at the other end of the table to be in the top six.
Neil said: “Their coach has gone in with a clear structure of how he wants them to play.
“He is trying to win each game rather than shut up shop.
“Reading try to dominate the ball, try to dominate the match and try to win it.
“They aren’t a stuffy team who try and sit behind the ball to make it difficult.
“On Saturday they will come out to try and win the game, just as we will.”
Gomes, who has coached in Portugal, Spain, Hungary, Greece and Saudi Arabia, is the third manager to have been in the Reading hotseat in the last 12 months or so.
Jaap Stam was in charge until this time last year, with Paul Clement replacing him.
Seven wins from his 30 games in charge – two of them against PNE – saw time called on him before Christmas.
Running the rule over the Reading side who Preston will face at the Madejski Stadium, Neil said: “You can see that they are well coached.
“José has not just rocked up there and stuck 11 men out on the pitch and told them to get on with it.
“We’ll give them the utmost respect, as they deserve, and we’ll go there to try and win the game.
“Reading have been 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 generally – they like to keep the ball and move it.
“They will get it in behind and turn you if they can and they have a variety of ways to do that – they’ve got pace and got winners in the team.
“We will have to deal with it and maybe have a couple of systems up our sleeve to cope with that.”
Since January 12, Reading have won four, drawn five and lost three games.
Their last game before the international break saw them draw 0-0 at Stoke, with a 3-0 home defeat to Leeds coming before that.
Ahead of PNE’s visit, Gomes said: “We must focus on Preston, give our maximum and if we win this it will be very important for our target we are trying to achieve.
“We will face a very strong team in Preston.
“It’s another opportunity to get the three points – it doesn’t matter who we play.”
Reading’s leading scorer is Yakou Meite with seven goals in the league and one in the League Cup.
The Ivory Coast striker spent last season on loan with Sochaux in France.
There is a chance Nelson Oliveria could be back in the Royals squad.
The striker, on loan from Norwich – where he worked with Neil – looked set to miss the rest of the season because of a hamstring injury.
However, Oliveria has made a swift recovery.