GARY Taylor-Fletcher dedicated the Reading win to Keith Southern, and revealed how he was close to tears as he told the team what had happened to his mate.
Southern underwent surgery to remove a tumour in the run-up to the game and will be out of action until the new year.
He had told only a few of his closest friends, including Taylor-Fletcher.
And it was Taylor-Fletcher who gathered his team-mates around on the day before Saturday’s Reading match.
HE explained why Southern was absent. The striker said: “It is about a week and a half ago that Keith told me and it was a massive shock.
“We kept it from the rest of the lads because Keith is a very private person. He wanted to get the operation over and done with before anyone else knew.
“When I had to tell the other lads I was nearly breaking up, so I can’t imagine how Keith was feeling when he told me.
“There was a real determination to get the points for him on Saturday.
“All the lads have been quite emotional about it, which is understandable because Keith is a great lad, and when you find out one of your mates has had to have an operation like that it isn’t nice.
“But he will bounce back and it was magnificent for the lads to get the three points for him.”
Taylor-Fletcher has been in contact with Southern on a daily basis and says all the signs so far are good.
“Every bit of news he has had has been good news and positive, so he is in good spirits,” Taylor-Fletcher added.
“He has to take it easy for a little bit, but once he gets the results from the biopsy, then touch wood it will be positive news again and he will be able to go from there.
“Keith is a very good friend and we socialise a lot. On the pitch he is a great professional and he will be missed.
“But I know he is raring to get back and all the lads are looking forward to seeing him again.”
Holloway was delighted with the three points and praised Taylor-Fletcher for the way he handled the Southern situation.
The Pool boss said: “Gary gave a wonderful speech at our training ground. It was so moving, and the way the lads have responded ... this win is for you Keith,
“Get yourself back here as quickly as you can. We are all rooting for you, son.”