Cardiff clash a must-win for Paunovic

16 April 2021 16:33:46 GMTPlus10

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic says Friday's Championship clash against Cardiff City is a "must-win" game if his team want to secure a play-off place this season.

The Royals occupy seventh spot in the standings heading into the latest round of matches, five points behind Bournemouth and Barnsley in fifth and sixth respectively with just five games remaining.

It's definitely a must-win game.

Veljko Paunovic

Reading are still firmly in the hunt for a top-six finish, but any slip-ups now are likely to cost them a place in the end-of-season play-offs and ultimately a shot at returning to the Premier League for the first time since the 2012/13 campaign.

Paunovic's men were beaten 2-0 by Watford last time out, ending a three-game unbeaten run, and the promotion-hopefuls will need to be at their best to get the better of Cardiff, who can still mathematically get into the play-off positions.

Mick McCarthy's side are 11 points off the top six but have failed to win any of their last three matches, losing back-to-back games against Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday before drawing with Blackburn Rovers.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Friday's encounter at the Madejski Stadium, Paunovic was under no illusions as to how important this game is in the battle for the play-offs.

"It's definitely a must-win game. Everyone is aware of the situation and is working hard, as we've done all season," he said at his press conference. "Everyone is in a very good mood and is embracing the opportunity we have ahead of us in the best possible way."

Paunovic confirmed John Swift is back in training and available for selection, while Omar Richards has also rejoined the first team and is expected to play some part in the fixture.

Reading are 1.95 to pick up the win one home soil, while the draw is 3.40 and Cardiff are available at 4.00 to claim the spoils.

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