Sheffield United: Reading claim their star centre-forward is not a shoe-in at Bramall Lane
Despite scoring the goal which lifted them out of the relegation zone earlier this week, Reading centre-forward Nelson Oliveira is not certain to start against Sheffield United, the Portuguese's manager has admitted.
Having made an immediate impact on his return from injury, Oliveira appeared certain to spearhead the visitors' attack at Bramall Lane following his exploits during Wednesday's win over Blackburn Rovers.
The 27-year-old, wearing a protective mask after suffering a serious facial wound two weeks ago, appears crucial to Reading's survival hopes but his compatriot, José Manuel Gomes, last night acknowledged the nature of Oliveira's condition means his participation on Saturday is in doubt.
"If he recovers properly and shows we can count on him he will play, of course," Gomes said. "He asked to play in the previous match at Sheffield Wednesday but the doctor would not give him permission, he couldn’t go on the pitch after his difficult operation.
"His nose was broken in four places, but he insisted on playing this game and it means he really wants to help the team."
Reading, who appointed Gomes following their home defeat by United two months ago, make the journey north showing signs of recovery following a desperate start to the campaign. Beating Tony Mowbray's side not only lifted them to 21st in the table, it also saw Reading collect points from four back to back games for the first time this term.
Despite his comments, it seems unlikely Gomes will leave Oliverira on the bench after acknowledging his bravery had inspired Reading's result against Rovers.
"When you feel a player full of motivation who works and trains and wants to play, you feel this energy, you must give him a chance," Gomes said. "The way he played was amazing, it gives courage to everybody.
"We must sleep then we will train to prepare for Saturday’s game against Sheffield United, which will also be tough."