Lee Johnson fears influential midfielder Korey Smith could miss the remainder of Bristol City’s Championship play-off challenge after being taken off on a stretcher in the first half of Friday’s 1-1 draw with Reading.
An entertaining match that did credit to both teams was marred by a 25th-minute injury to Smith following a midfield challenge with Ovie Ejaria.
Reading took a 48th-minute lead from a free-kick routine straight off the training ground, involving Lewis Baker and Ejaria, that ended with Andy Rinomhota crossing low from the right for Yakou Meite to shoot home at the near post.
But the visitors’ hopes of boosting their relegation fight with all three points disappeared in the 72nd minute when City midfielder Josh Brownhill headed home a deep cross from substitute Niclas Eliasson, almost colliding with the post in the process.
City head coach Johnson said: “Korey has gone for x-rays on an area around his ankle and it is just a case of keeping everything crossed. If it is no more than bruising he might not be out for that long.
“But if there is a crack in the bone we are looking at a lay-off well beyond the end of the season. We all feel for him because he has had wretched luck with injuries.”
On his side’s failure to beat relegation-threatened Reading, Johnson added: “To be honest I am not feeling negative in the slightest.
“We played well and the lads worked their socks off. At times we just lacked that bit of quality with our final pass but I couldn’t ask any more of them.
“Three of our last four games are away and there will be people eager to write us off. I don’t mind that. Our form on our travels has been good and we are playing without fear.
“The last home game is a massive one against Derby and we will continue to enjoy a promotion race no-one tipped us to be involved in.”
Reading boss Jose Gomes was happy with the result, performance and manner in which his side scored.
“It’s great when you see work on the training ground pay off in a game,” he said. “We practised that free-kick first with just the players involved two days before the game and then with the whole team the following day.
“Everyone expects Ovie to shoot when he receives the ball and the whole move depends on the accuracy of his pass to Andy, which was perfect today.
“It is a good point for us against a team who were 3-0 up on West Bromwich Albion in the first 20 minutes recently.
“They have good offensive players and play a lot of direct balls into the box. We were brave in defending that and were always a threat ourselves going forward.
“I don’t know how many points we will need to be safe because there are so many surprise results in the Championship.
“If we start thinking about targets we may lose our focus on the next game and the importance of recovering from matches played in a short space of time.
“We have a very big game against West Bromwich on Monday and that is all I will be thinking about.”