JOHN SWIFT insists there is no pressure on Reading as they head to Wembley for the Championship play-off final.
The Royals were surprise third-placed finishers, and then underdogs against Fulham in the semi-finals, but are now just one game away from the Premier League.
Standing in their way are Huddersfield, who are once again the favourites in the eyes of most bookmakers – but that is just the way midfielder Swift likes it.
“Every player is different, but we’ve all played in big games before and this is one of the biggest,” he said.
“But since the beginning of the season I don’t think we were tipped to be up there, and the pressure wasn’t on us at the start of the play-offs.
“We weren’t expected to be here so there is no pressure on us.”
Swift left Chelsea to join Reading last summer, having made just one substitute appearance in the Premier League and spending the bulk of his two years as part of the Blues’ senior squad out on loan.
Players like Chris Gunter, Liam Moore, Tyler Blackett and Yann Kermorgant have also had a brief taste of the top flight, and Swift says they are determined to have another crack.
“It’s a massive game,” added the 21-year-old.
“We have got quite a few players here who have dropped down and who want to get back up there.
Since the beginning of the season I don’t think we were tipped to be up there, and the pressure wasn’t on us at the start of the play-offs.Reading’s John Swift
“It would be a massive achievement, but we’ve got a huge game in front of us and we can’t look too far forward.
“I went to Wembley with Swindon for a play-off final, but I wasn’t in the squad so that was disappointing.
“But after that I just wanted to get there again and hopefully it will be a good result.
“It’s a huge arena, the pitch is great and the whole surroundings are a lot different, it will be a lot louder on the day. It’s a famous day that we are all looking forward to it.”
Gunter is fully aware of the pressure that he should expect at Wembley this afternoon and warned his team-mates to come under constant pressure from a Terriers team who have surprised so many people this season.
“There’ll be times in the game where for a spell, however long or short that is, we’re under the cosh,” he explained.
“That happened home and away against Fulham in the semi-finals and we got through it.”
Gunter is hoping that the Royals fans can produce enough noise to help carry the team back to the top flight.
“It’s easy to make a noise as a fan when things are going well, but it’s when we’re struggling a bit when our fans can make a difference and get us through it,” he added.
“There’ll be a stadium full of them on Monday, and that’s when we’ll need them.”
Gunter said as much as he respected Town’s achievements this season, he and his team-mates simply had to concentrate on their own game.
“We respect everybody, but we need to focus on how we play,” said Gunter. “Hopefully, if we do that – like we have all season – it will be enough to get the win.
“It’s a different situation to when we’ve played them before; it’s a final and there is no game to come after.
“So we need to stay calm and trust what we’ve done this season. We’ve got to this position by playing a certain way and doing what we do well. That’s what gives us confidence going into the game.”