Form Guide (All competitions, most recent result first)
Reading: L, L, W, D, W, W
Wigan: W, L, D, D, W, L
Two losses have blotted the copybooks of Brian McDermott's results record, after narrow 2-1 defeats at Stoke in the League and then away to Man Utd in the FA Cup. However, the previous defeat before those two came on New Year's Day at White Hart Lane, so you can hardly say the Royals have lost their form - especially with the rotated squad the Reading manager took to Old Trafford. Reading are unbeaten in six in all competitions at the Madejski since a 5-2 loss under the floodlights and Sky cameras against Arsenal.
A different story entirely for the Latics, whose only wins in 2013 have been against lower-league opposition in the FA Cup. They overcame Huddersfield, Macclesfield and Bournemouth to reach the Quarter-Finals, but the Cherries took them to a second leg after a 1-1 draw at home. Their last win in the League was at the end of December where they routed Aston Villa 3-0 away from home.
Head to Head
The aforementioned 3-2 loss to Wigan was the last time these two sides met - Jordi Gomez equalising a Sean Morrison goal, putting the Latics ahead before Ali Al-Habsi's calamitous own-goal, then firing a winner in injury-time.
If you like historical records then you might like the news that Reading haven't lost at home to Wigan in this millennium - 1999 saw a terrible 2-0 loss but since then it's five wins and two draws at the Mad Stad.
The FA Cup really does no favours to Brian McDermott's team selections as most of his players put up performances that showed they deserve to start this match. Sean Morrison was commanding at the back, Nicky Shorey was assured on his reappearance, and Noel Hunt caused more than enough problems for Nemanja Vidic. Reading also went to 4-4-2 for this match but the likelihood is that McDermott will return to the league strategy of 4-5-1.
Mikele Leigertwood and Jimmy Kebe are doubts for this fixture - Ledge is unlikely to overcome the injury he sustained at Old Trafford but Kebe, who missed the trip up north, should be fit to start tomorrow. Daniel Carrico appeared on the bench against Man Utd so he might come into the side, but he's fighting Guthrie, Akpan, McCleary and others in a congested five man midfield.
Wigan have no real injury worries and should name a similar side to that which lost 4-1 at Chelsea last time out in the League.
Reading (4-5-1): Federici; Kelly, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte; Kebe, Akpan, Karacan, McAnuff, McCleary; Pogrebnyak
Wigan (3-4-3): Caldwell, Stam, Figueroa; McArthur, Maloney, Scharner, McCarthy; Kone, Di Santo, Gomez
It's time to tell Phil Dowd he doesn't know what he's doing for the first time this season as he takes charge of this match. He's shown three red cards this season, though the last of those was back in October. He took charge of Wigan's home draw against Aston Villa in December, whilst we haven't had the pleasure of his company since he (correctly) gave two penalties against Reading in the Playoff Final of 2011 against Swansea City. No hard feelings Phil...
The Tilehurst End Prediction
I think the bookies just about have it right when they can barely pick a favourite, with all three results tempting value. However, you look at three main things. Reading are unbeaten at home since Boxing Day; Wigan haven't won in the league in 2013; and the Latics haven't come away with three points at the Madejski in this millennium. So the omens are certainly good for a Royals win, but I don't expect an easy victory - when was that ever the way with McDermott's men?! A 2-1 win would suit me, though a confident one and not another last-minute winner - but three points are three points...