Reading manager Jaap Stam has dismissed claims that the Royals are still in with a shout of automatic promotion after Newcastle’s recent slip-ups in the league.
Stam’s side had to overcome a stubborn Rotherham side on Monday, coming from 1-0 down to win 2-1 against the already relegated team. The win however moved them within six points of the Magpies with three games to go. Their goal difference (which was damaged heavily by their recent 7-1 loss to Norwich) means the gap is effectively seven points making an automatic promotion push unlikely.
Stam is quoted by the Shields Gazette as saying that he is focused only on the next game, and that the playoffs are the club’s main focus:
“It’s not going to be easy. We don’t need to look at Newcastle. You can say if everything goes right for us, and we win our games and they lose their games, then we can still catch them in the table. But for us we still need to work hard and try to win our next game at Nottingham Forest.”
Huddersfield Town are still Newcastle’s main concern. They can close to within four points with a win against Fulham on Saturday while the Magpies have to wait until Monday night to play Preston.
If Rafa Benitez’s side lose at St James’ Park, the Terriers could be only one point behind if they win their game in hand against Wolves next Tuesday. The game against Preston could turn out to be an absolutely vital one for Newcastle.