The Royals may have beaten strugglers Burton Albion comfortably at the weekend, but they had to make do without several key players. And, judging by what Jaap Stam has had to say, the problem won't let up any time soon:
“We’re quite unfortunate with these injuries - you can’t do anything about them.
“They are not muscle ones, if they were then you can take a look at how you are training and decide if you need to change anything.
“But they are injuries you can’t do anything about."
The bad news
Reading will be without Yann Kermorgant, who didn't play at the weekend, for at least "a couple of weeks" due to a recurring knee problem. Although Stam is hopeful that the lay-off won't be too lengthy, it's still too early to tell:
“He’s had an injection in it - and we don’t know how his knee will react.
“They say if the injection works well it will take a couple of weeks, but if it doesn’t work well it can be longer."
Similarly, there's no set date on the return of Joey Van den Berg, who also didn't feature against Burton Albion due to a knee problem. Stam said:
“He tried to train last week. He made a couple of passes, he had a shot on target - but then he came straight back in.
"Maybe next week he can join the group - but we’re not sure.”
As Hoops wrote last week, star playmaker John Swift is set to be out for 4-6 weeks after picking up an injury whilst on international duty. The former Chelsea man damaged his ankle ligaments whilst playing for England's Under 21s against Italy.
The gaffer was understandably frustrated:
“You need those players in your team - so when you see the injury happen you think ******* hell - you just don’t want that.”
“I think we’re looking at four to six weeks - hopefully if everything goes well it can be a bit quicker.
“But that’s the normal time for that sort of injury. The ligament is not completely broken through, but there is some damage.”
Elsewhere, the likes of Stephen Quinn and Anssi Jaakkola are still out, but there's little indication as to when they're due back into first team action.
The better news
Deniss Rakels is expected back in December or January, a slightly earlier return than February, as previously thought. The Latvian forward was stretchered off the pitch during Reading's 2-2 draw with MK Dons in the League Cup, having suffered an ankle injury.
"Deniss is doing some jogging. There is progress, he is feeling a lot better."
"Deniss is a great guy, he’s always positive in how he works and want he wants to do.
“Hopefully for him it goes quick - and for us as well so we can use him.”
Who has recently returned?
The absence of Kermorgant, Van den Berg, Swift, Quinn and Jaakkola is somewhat balanced out by the return of several other players. Yakou Meite, Joseph Mendes and Roy Beerens had all picked up slight problems recently, but each started at the weekend.
They're joined by centre half Jake Cooper, who has struggled for game time this season. Speaking about the academy graduate, Stam said:
“Jake has been out quite a while, but he’s fit now. He’s played for the Under-23s as well because that’s totally different to just training."
The strength in depth is reassuring
Although the Royals will certainly miss the key players mentioned above, there are plenty of others to fill the gaps. Dominic Samuel, Yakou Meite, Joseph Mendes and Liam Kelly all got minutes against Burton, having not featured that much under Stam.
As much as we hate to see players in the fitness room, it does give those four (amongst others) an opportunity to break into first team contention.