DONCASTER Rovers’ midfielder John Oster, who lists Reading as one of his former clubs, will need no introduction to Royals fans in tomorrow’s Championship game at the Madjeski Stadium.
“We didn’t have a good result last season but I’m looking forward to going back there,” said Oster.
Two of the stars of the Reading side which reached last season’s Promotion Play-off final at Wembley, striker Shane Long and defender Matt Mills, have since moved on and Reading currently find themselves sharing a relegation berth with Rovers.
“Shane and Matt would be assets to any club so I think it will have been a big blow to Reading to lose both of them,” said Oster.
“I don’t think that they have been able to replace them as such so I don’t think that they are going to be as strong as they were last season - though they are still a strong enough team to do well.
“They’ve not had a great start in terms of results but I fully expect them to pick up.
“I don’t know what the situation is with the squad as regards injuries and such, but they’ve got enough quality in the team to get themselves up the table.”
Oster has been one of the form players for Rovers this season during what has been a difficult start for them in terms of points.
“I’ve been asked to play a different role this season,” he said. “Whether or not that’s due to injuries and it will change when we get players back, who knows?
“I’m enjoying my football; obviously if you are playing well you enjoy it but it’s not too pleasurable when the team is not picking up points and I think that’s a bit more important.
“I still think, however, that it’s a massive change from the second half of last season when we weren’t playing particularly well and we weren’t getting the results. We’ve played well in most of our games but we’ve not been getting the rub of the green.
“If we can get something from the Reading game we’ve got two home games coming up against Crystal Palace, another of my former clubs, and Hull City. Who knows where we’ll be after the next three games? We could be in a lot healthier position.
“The first thing that we’ve got to try and do is to get out of the bottom three, but we’ll just take it one game at a time starting with the trip to Reading tomorrow.
“If the performance is good enough hopefully we’ll pick up the points.
“I don’t look at the table every day but I obviously know where we are in the league and it’s not where we want to be. But I think you’ve got to wait until the 10-15 game mark before the league starts to take shape and have an idea of what clubs are going to do.
“But you nearly always get a team which puts together a late run and you also get teams who choke at the top and then drop down the table.
“I want us to be in a better position than we are now after 15 games, but as long as we are performing well and we are playing well every week, then I’m not really interested in anything else because if you are playing well that generally takes care of the results.
“As I say, we are not where we want to be but it’s not been easy.
“We ended last season with a depleted squad and we’ve started this season the same, so it’s difficult.
“The manager knows that he’s got injured players but he can’t sign new players because the squad will be too big when the injured players come back so he has to perform a fine balancing act.
“When we get the injured players back, and it’s starting to happen, we’ll have one of the strongest squads we’ve had and there will be a lot of competition for places.”
Teams and ref
READING (possible): Federici, Griffin, Pearce, GORKSS, Mills, Kebe, Karacan, Leigertwood, McAnuff, le Fondre, Manset.
ROVERS (possible): G Woods, O’Connor, Martis, Friend, Spurr, Coppinger, Stock. Oster Bennett, Lalkovic, Hayter.
GRAHAM SALISBURY (Lancashire): Has given out 31 yellow cards and one red this season.
Rovers lost out in a seven-goal thriller in the corresponding game last season. They led 3-1 early in the second half and looked all set to beat the Royals for the first time in 26 years only to pay the price for some poor defending.
It was the last game that midfielder Martin Woods, still on the comeback trail, played for Rovers last season.
One to watch
Adam Le Fondre: The former Rotherham striker was a prolific scorer in League Two for the Millers.
He attracted a lot of interest from clubs, including the Owls, before joining Reading.
Le Fondre is untried at Championship level but he has a proven eye for a goal and the Doncaster defence will need to remain focused throughout the 90 minutes.