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Johnson banking on bumper away crowd

Lee Johnson says City’s bumper travelling support will play a key role at Reading’s Madejski Stadium tomorrow (3pm kick-off).

More than 3,000 visiting supporters will be behind the goal in Berkshire as City return to Sky Bet Championship after a 15-day break.

Given City are facing last season’s beaten Championship play-off finalists on their own patch, Johnson says the vociferous away support could be crucial.

“It’s massive for the players,” Johnson told BCTV. “They’re already going into the game full of confidence in their own ability and it’s important they give the big travelling support something to get behind.

“That in turn gets the fans bouncing, giving the players another extra boost. It can make the difference when you’re sending that cross into the box or having a shot.

“I remember the (2-0) win in 2009 when the fans were all bouncing in that stand behind the goal and, if I’m putting a player’s hat on, it’s the kind of moments that live with you. That’s all down to the fans and the atmosphere they created on the day.”

WHAT HE SAID

“It will be a good test for us because they’re a good side, but we’re playing well and the players are confident.”

Head coach Lee Johnson

City were 2-0 up at home to the Royals back in January, before succumbing to late fightback and losing 3-2.

It’s a game that sticks in the head coach’s mind. Eight months on he believes a lot has changed for the positive.

“When I think back to that match, we were 2-0 up because we more than matched them for 70 minutes,” he said.

“But they were able to make changes and get the game back. We had very few options on the bench and had Adam Matthews at centre-back.

“When I look at our squad now, I believe we’re a lot stronger and more able to deal with challenges like that.

“It will be a good test for us because they’re a good side, but we’re playing well and the players are confident.”

INJURY UPDATE

Milan Djuric (groin) and Gary O’Neil (knee) are the only absentees from the squad.

Luke Steele and Jonathan Leko are available for the first time, and have been handed squad numbers 15 and 45 respectively.