Nigel Adkins gave an injury update to the official site:
"It was a shame to have Hope missing as he's been doing really, really well hasn’t he? He came off the other night at Leeds nursing an ankle injury which is not a major thing, he should be alright in a few days but not sufficiently enough to be involved today,"
"Danny Guthrie was feeling his hamstring. He’s been blighted from the start of pre-season with one thing after another and we have to get to the bottom of it, because when we think he’s getting back he pulls up again. We don’t think it’ll be long but it’s enough to not be involved today. Hal started the game and that’ll be beneficial to us with the energy he gives us and the energy Ryan Edwards gives us is phenomenal."
Hope Akpan recently received a call-up to the Nigeria squad so his minor injury will be particularly disappointing, though the Royals could use him in the middle too with the current crisis. Danny Guthrie's Reading career seems to have been a constant battle against injury, though when he did have a good run in the team at the start of last season, he was very impressive.
Danny Williams is a more long-term injury and Adkins gave an update on his condition:
"Danny has weeks to go. He is running with his boots on and stepping up his rehab, but did that for the first time the other day so is a way off."
Williams and Jem Karacan remain long-term absentees, with Guthrie and Akpan day-to-day. That leaves Oliver Norwood and Aaron Kuhl as the only fit, senior, natural central midfielders in the squad (though you'd be pushed to call Kuhl senior!).
Of course, there are options within the squad but they are very much square pegs in round holes. Michael Hector and Jordan Obita have both had unsuccessful stints in the middle of the park (and would leave gaps at CB and LB respectively), whilst Jake Taylor and Ryan Edwards would seem to lack the presence to dominate the middle of the park.
Still, with a two week break to recover, let's hope that Akpan and Guthrie, at least, can fully recover for three games in eight days after this pesky international break is over. And one day, that fantasy discussion about our best central midfield will actually come to fruition... possibly.