Preview | Reading v Swansea City
Swansea City will look to seal their place in the Championship play-offs when they face Reading at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon (12pm).
The Swans memorably secured a top-six finish on the final day of last season, but they can seal the deal with two games to spare should they avoid defeat in Berkshire.
The Royals are eight points behind the Swans with nine currently available, and they are the only club outside the top six who can force their way in before the season ends.
The Swans are looking to bounce back from the disappointment of conceding a late winner at home to QPR in midweek, a result that ended their automatic promotion hopes.
But there is still plenty to play for and look forward to for Steve Cooper’s team, having been right among the promotion hunt from the outset of a unique season.
Andre Ayew is likely to miss out as he recovers from the hamstring injury he suffered in the draw with Wycombe.
There are no other injury concerns for head coach Cooper, with long-term absentee Tivonge Rushesha the only other unavailable player.
Steve Cooper: “We will take nothing for granted, we have worked hard to get in this position and we want to try and get the job done.
“But you have to play the game and get the right result, they are playing for the same thing and they are a good side.
“We are in a different position, but we have to respect that and play the game for what it is.
“You always want to have momentum and be winning games and in good form. At some points of the season it can be better than others, but we cannot assume anything.
“We have got a job to do, and we have to deliver when it counts on Sunday.
“There is so much to play for and that’s the case for so many teams at this time of year.
“We are not taking anything for granted. We are not in the play-offs yet, and we have to go and earn that.”
Veljko Paunovic: “It gets much more difficult but we will not give up and we have to be ready if things go well on the other side.
"It's definitely worth giving our best to the end and you never know in football. Things change very quickly and we have to be ready to convert our opportunity.
"This is the last moment to understand how important this is. It's not going to be easy or perfect opportunities at this point in the season and you have to be clinical.
“You're going to have an opponent on top of your neck and you have to fight that but that's what teams do. That's what we have to do and get better at."
Remember the last time?
Wayne Routledge’s last-gasp header saw Swansea City secure a play-off spot with a 4-1 victory over 10-man Reading on a dramatic night in July 2020.
Steve Cooper’s side knew they had to win at the Madejski Stadium to have any hope of a top-six finish, and Rhian Brewster’s 10th goal of the season gave them an ideal start.
The sending off of Yakou Meite then gave the Swans a man advantage, but the Royals equalised before the break through a George Puscas penalty.
The Swans restored their lead through a classy finish from substitute Routledge, before Liam Cullen showed great composure to steer in his first goal for the club.
And when Routledge popped up at the death to complete his brace it put the Swans into the top six as Nottingham Forest suffered a 4-1 defeat at home to Stoke, meaning Swansea got into the play-offs on goal difference.
7 – Connor Roberts and Jake Bidwell have seven assists apiece this season, no other defender in the Championship has more.
37 – Swansea have the second-best away record in the Championship having won 11 games and picked up 37 points on their travels. Only Norwich (48) have recorded more.
Today we welcome our virtual mascots, Riley James and Harvey Bevan.
Harvey is aged 13 and from Aberdare. His favourite players are Andre Ayew and Connor Roberts.
Riley comes from Devon and his favourite players are Andre Ayew and Matt Grimes. Riley is celebrating his third birthday today, so happy birthday Riley!