Stam - It's Going To Be A Very Interesting Game
This semi-final is finely poised after the first leg draw, Reading and Fulham go again this evening at the Madejski Stadium, at stake a place in the Championship play-off final.
However, before anything else, going back to Saturday's 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage Jaap Stam admitted the loss of Paul McShane for Tuesday's second leg would be a blow - it didn't mean Reading didn't have the options to get us to Wembley though.
He was quoted by the BBC: 'We can still win a game without Paul McShane, he's been very important to us throughout the season but we have options and we're very confident that we can still do well.'
Even though Reading have a great record at the Madejski this season, Stam wouldn't be drawn on who 'had the advantage' going into the second leg and knew there was still a lot of work to be done.
'I'm not going to say who does or doesn't have the advantage for the second leg. We know what we can do and what we can bring as a side and you've seen that today. Home advantage doesn't guarantee you a win, you still have to work very hard and give everything for it. These games aren't just about ability and quality, it's about your mind and dealing with the stress and playing with your heart. A lot of things are different in these games than they are in the league.'
Jordan Obita had given Reading that all-important lead at Craven Cottage but this wasn't a lead we could see out, Tom Cairney earning Fulham a draw, which wouldn't displease the Royals seen as the final 10 minutes were played without McShane, due to the aforementioned sending off.
It's not just the suspended McShane who will sit out as it looks as if the captain will be joined by Obita? An ankle injury forced him off at Craven Cottage and has left him rated as doubtful.
Admittedly Stam said he would be disappointed to lose him too but reiterated his thoughts about having options among his squad as others have recently come back from injuries at the right time too.
He told BBC Radio Berkshire: We've got options if Jordan Obita is doubtful and that's the good thing about having a big squad. We've had players coming back into the squad too recently from injuries as well and you need those options to be able to make changes.'
The excitement is growing around this game but Fulham, who finished sixth, are a dangerous opponent.
Stam said: 'Everyone's excited for the second leg, but there's still a game to play against a very good side, even though you've got home advantage.'
One thing the boss was sure of was the fact it would be a 'very interesting' meeting this evening involving a couple of good teams that could go either way.
'We need to be aware of that and they need to score. It's going to be a very interesting game with two very good teams playing against each other, so let's just wait and see what's going to happen.'