READING boss Veljko Paunovic is confident that Andy Carroll will stay at the Championship strugglers.
The towering frontman, 33, is now a free agent as his short-term deal with the Royals ended last night.
Premier League Burnley have been linked with a move for the ex-England man as they search for someone to fill the void left by Chris Wood’s move to Newcastle.
Carroll thought he had earned Reading victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday after breaking the deadlock with one of his trademark powering headers.
But a late double from Boro’s Matt Crooks condemned them to defeat to leave them just three points above the drop zone.
Carroll’s goal against Boro took his tally to two in eight appearances for the club – but it seems Royals boss Veljko Paunovic believes that it will not be his last.
He said: “It’s a technical issue in terms of his contract expiring today but that doesn't mean that he’ll leave.
“His performances in his time with us will bring him opportunities.
“But in my conversation with him I only felt that there’s a desire from his end to remain with us.
“It’s also a football opportunity for him but hopefully he stays.”
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The former Newcastle, Liverpool and West Ham striker was without a club this season after he was released by the Magpies last summer.
But after impressing on trial, he was handed a two-month deal at Reading in November.
Meanwhile, Boro stretched their unbeaten run to seven games after bagging a winner in time added on for the third match in a row.
After they made it hard again. boss Chris Wilder said: “I 100 per cent would like a comfortable afternoon but this is the Championship and it doesn’t work that way.
“The introduction of the subs and the quality of the bench now to what it was gave us the opportunity to get back into the game and find a winner.”
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