Jaap Stam has confirmed that there will be four senior players absent for tomorrow's opening game against Preston North End.
Stephen Quinn, Dominic Samuel and new signings Joseph Mendes and Yakou Meite all missed the friendly last week against Bournemouth and will sit out again at the Madejski Stadium for the visit of the Lilywhites. Here's what the boss had to say:
"When Stephen Quinn came back and started training with us, he had a problem with his knee. They’re going to have a couple of scans with him and have a look. It’s an old injury that he had last season, so we need to take care of him."
"Dominic Samuel is still out with his knee as well, and he’ll be out for another two or three weeks."
"Joseph Mendes is not fit yet; he has been training on the pitch but not with the squad. He’s getting close, but we can’t rush things – if you talk to him he says he’s feeling okay, but he has said that a lot throughout pre-season and sometimes you need to slow a bit him down and get him fully fit. He had a scan, a small thing with a muscle in his hip, not a major thing, but hopefully next week he will train with the squad."
“Yakou Meite has been training with the squad and doing quite well. Because he hasn’t been training with a team before us, we need to take care with him because he has told me a couple of times he’s fit and ready for it, but these youngsters – especially with the quality he has as he’s very explosive player, very quick – if you’re going to rush him into things then there is a greater chance of hurting him and getting him and injury instead of getting him fit.”
The good news however is that Yann Kermorgant (hip), Garath McCleary (calf) and Danzell Gravenberch are all fit and available for selection following their respective injuries.
So how will Reading line-up against Preston?
You would expect either the returning Kermorgant or Deniss Rakels to start in the centre of the front three with McCleary on one of the flanks, although new signings Roy Beerens and Callum Harriott could feature instead. In midfield, Joey van den Berg will likely play the holding role with John Swift and Danny Williams just ahead of him. The back four should remain the same from last season - Chris Gunter, skipper Paul McShane, Jake Cooper and Jordan Obita. The big question is who will start in goal? Ali Al-Habsi played in the final pre-season friendly against Bournemouth last week, which suggests he will begin the campaign as #1 with new signing Anssi Jaakkola as back-up.