A bad night for the Blues

JOE Royle last night lamented a bad break for the Blues after suffering a double blow to their play-off hopes.The Blues boss was at Fratton Park last night to watch Pompey seal promotion but was left deflated when he heard John McGreal had suffered medial ligament damage and saw Reading had romped to a 5-1 home win against nine-man Preston.

JOE Royle last night lamented a bad break for the Blues after suffering a double blow to their play-off hopes, writes Derek Davis.

The Blues boss was at Fratton Park last night to watch Pompey seal promotion but was left deflated when he heard John McGreal had suffered medial ligament damage and saw Reading had romped to a 5-1 home win against nine-man Preston.

McGreal was stretchered off after 35 minutes after twisting his knee in the 1-1 reserve-team draw with West Ham at Portman Road last night. The swelling was so severe last night that he will need at least a week before an X-ray can assess the injury.

Royle said: "I feel terrible for John, he is a thoroughly nice man who doesn't deserve this.


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"And it has hurt us not having him. He was in outstanding form until he got the original injury at Brighton and since then we have not had many clean sheets. We would certainly be points better off if we had had him fit all season."

Royle watched as Svetoslav Todorov sent Pompey into the Premiership with the only goal of the game against Burnley but warned they won't be an easy touch at Portman Road on Friday night.

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He said: "This will take the pressure off them. They were nervous against Burnley in the first half but stepped up a gear in the second.

"We won't know how it will affect them but all we can do is be at our best on Friday.

"We know we have to win. We then want to see Reading beat Nottingham Forest and put the pressure back on them. But then Reading still have a difficult run-in.

"I said there would be many twists and turns before the season is out and that is what is happening. There are still a lot of games to go. All we can do is focus on what we have to do.

"It has not been a good night for us but I'm particularly upset for John."

A Nicky Forster hat-trick helped Reading beat Preston 5-1 at the Madejski Stadium as the Lillywhites went down to nine men after defender Michael Jackson and keeper David Lucas were sent off. The win pushed the Royals up two places into fourth behind Sheffield United, who beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 at Bramall Lane. Wolves are now sixth and four points ahead of Ipswich, who still edge out Norwich on goal difference.

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