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Key Battles: Hull City AFC v Reading FC

Reading play Hull City away this evening at the KC Stadium. The Royals were second in the Championship just two months ago but have now drifted down to 12th. Reading lost 1-0 away to Preston North End on Saturday afternoon when Joe Garner's second-half penalty was enough for the hosts. Ethan is back to explain the key battles the still managerless Royals face.

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Nick Blackman vs Curtis Davies

Our top-scorer had a difficult afternoon on Saturday, as did most of the side. Blackman had a clear chance to equalise after Garner's penalty but missed. Caretaker boss Martin Kuhl said "When he goes through you think go finish it, but he puts it over. "At the beginning of the season he could shut his eyes and that hits the back of the net, but that's football." It is clear Blackman is struggling at the moment and this reflects the rest of the team as well.

Only Andre Gray (11) and Ross McCormack (10) have scored more goals in the Championship this season than Blackman (9). The striker was our driving force when in good form a couple of months ago so fans will be looking to him for a mini revival against Hull. With the not quite fit Orlando Sa pushing for a return, Blackman is under pressure to perform.

With Michael Dawson injured for around a month and Alex Bruce still out, Hull's defensive obstacle to Blackman is likely to be Curtis Davies. The centre back has made 74 appearances for the Tigers since a £2million move from Birmingham in 2013. Davies has made 16 appearances in the Championship this season and with 77% average pass accuracy and 60% average duels won, he's a formidable threat to Blackman adding to his goal tally.

Ola John vs Moses Odubajo

Benfica's on-loan Dutch winger Ola John Showed some promising flair after coming on as a substitute in the second half against Preston North End on Saturday and is pushing harder and harder for a starting position. It will be hard to ignore John's substitute contributions recently. His spark against Everton in the cup provided real hope as well as in the 2-2 draw at home to Huddersfield Town in early November. The pacy winger came on for the last 15 minutes or so and scored a late equaliser.

Hull's right-back/right-winger Moses Odubajo is the man in the way of Ola John. The 22 year-old signed for the Tigers from Brentford this summer and has already made 19 appearances. Odubajo has been given an impressive performance score of 353 by Squawka. He is one yellow card away from a one-match ban, and will have to be careful against Ola John whose electric pace is a valuable asset to Reading. His pace has caused a few problems for opposition defences in the limited time he's had on the pitch so a starting place for the Royals would be interesting for John.

Jonathan Bond vs Chuba Akpom

Goalkeeper Jonathan Bond made some good saves against Preston at the weekend stopping what seemed like certain goals. However, he has been constantly representing the mood amongst all the players at the moment - nervous yet desperate to make amends for recent poor form. After a solid performance for most of the match, he was beaten from the penalty spot after Garner had been bundled over by Paul McShane. Reading have lost each of their last three Championship fixtures and Bond will need to be at his very best to try and help make sure four losses in a row does not occur. The Royals last lost four in a row towards the end of last season in April.

Hull City moved up to third in the Championship as Chuba Akpom's goal earned Hull a 1-0 win over lowly Bolton on Saturday. Akpom pounced from close range midway through a poor first half and will be a credible threat to Bond's net. The Arsenal loanee has scored three goals in 19 games so far this season and his pace and accurate finishing should not be underestimated come this evening.

All stats used in this article are from Squawka.