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Veljko Paunovic keen to keep the pressure off Reading's shoulders

The Royals, who sit fourth in the Championship table, face second-placed Brentford next.

Reading boss Veljko Paunovic was keen not to put any added pressure on his promotion-chasing side following their dour 0-0 draw at Stoke.

The Royals, who sit fourth in the Championship table, registered just one shot on target all game as they lost ground on second-placed Brentford ahead of a meeting between the two sides on Wednesday.

"I think it (the Brentford match) is a very important game," he said. "It is one of the most important of the season.

"We don't want to put pressure on us by saying it is a must-win game, but we know how we need to prepare for Brentford.

"We know the pressure is building because of the time of the season, but we won't put additional pressure on our shoulders.

"We are good competitors in every single game and we will compete against Brentford.

"We know what is in front of us and we know it won't be easy, but we will give it our all.

"We need to keep our momentum going and give our best.

"We remain disciplined and focused on what we control. We are aware of other results and what is going on in the league.

"We look to keep our minds on ourselves and our environment. We look at where we can get better and look to upgrade our game, that is the main focus for us.

"We are looking to go through this stretch of games remaining in the top six and we want to improve our position.

"The only thing we control is our performance and the preparation for our next opponents."

Stoke came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half when Steven Fletcher had a goal ruled out for offside.

It came at the end of a superb counter-attack by City, which saw James McClean head a deep Jack Clarke cross into the striker's path.

Stoke boss Michael O'Neill said his side need to improve in forward areas as they look to mount a late play-off push.

"I was disappointed with the result, but I was pleased with the performance," he said.

"I think we should have got more from the game.

"We were the dominant team for 65 minutes, but couldn't take advantage and get ahead in the game. The final ball let us down.

"The commitment and effort was there and we can't ask any more.

"Reading posed a threat at the end but it would have been harsh if we hadn't got at least a point.

"We had the best chances and got into good areas. We were just a bit indecisive in the box in terms of options and runs we made.

"We are continuing to work on that and there is room for improvement in that area.

"I haven't seen the goal back, it did look to me to be a decent goal at the time.

"I'm not sure where Steven's (Fletcher) starting position was so I can't comment.

"James (McClean) is adamant there was contact in the box when he was booked. Things like that aren't going our way at the moment.

"I haven't had a chat with officials about it after the game. They have made their decisions and that is not going to change things."

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Famara Diedhiou celebrates scoring for Bristol City against Huddersfield Town in the Championship on January 26, 2021
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Friday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The athletics schedule begins, with 100m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith among the names in action on the opening day. The men's 10,000m final concludes the action, with Team GB's Sam Atkin and Marc Scott taking part in the absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Sir Mo Farah (1am-2.30pm)

ROWING
· Victoria Thornley is Team GB's representative in the women's single sculls final (1.33am)
· Great Britain will be going for gold in the men's eight final (2.25am)

SWIMMING
· Team GB duo Molly Renshaw and Abbie Wood take part in the women's 200m breaststroke final, but new Olympic record-holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa is the hot favourite (2.41am)
· Luke Greenbank has very realistic ambitions of picking up a medal in the men's 200m backstroke final (2.50am)
· There is also British representation in the women's 100m freestyle final, although any medal for Anna Hopkin would be a surprise (2.59am)
· With one gold and one silver already under his belt at these Games, Duncan Scott goes again in the men's 200m individual medley final (3.16am)

TRAMPOLINE
· Bryony Page will be looking to repeat her 2016 heroics in the women's event (5am-7.30pm)

CANOE SLALOM
· Bradley Forbes-Cryans will be looking to emulate Rio gold medallist Joe Clarke in the men's kayak event (6am-9am)

FOOTBALL
· The women's tournament enters the quarter-finals, with Great Britain facing Australia at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (10am)

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