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Key Battles: Reading FC v Norwich City

Where will Reading's Boxing Day match against Norwich City be won or lost? Jack Simpson takes a look.

Can this man produce another match winnning display?
Can this man produce another match winnning display?
Warren Little/Getty Images

Paul McShane vs Nelson Oliveira

Bought from his native side Benfica in the summer the Portuguese man has nailed himself down as the Canaries' first choice striker. This is despite Oliveira scoring just three league goals all season, however the forward has found the net seven times in 16 appearances in all competitions.

Last season Oliveira had a loan spell at Nottingham Forest in which he scored nine goals in 28 appearances, before picking up an ankle injury, which meant he missed the last part of the campaign.

Oliveira has a bit of history against Reading having scored twice when the Royals lost 3-1 at Nottingham Forest last season.

Looking to make sure that there is no repeat of this will be Paul McShane. The centre back has looked solid in most of the games that he's played, forming a brilliant partnership with Liam Moore. However, the Reading defence has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with the Royals conceding 11 goals in five games and not keeping a clean sheet since the 3-0 win over Burton Albion in the middle of November.

This is something that Reading must improve not only ahead of the busy festive fixtures, but also in the long term if they are to achieve promotion.

Here's Oliveira demonstrating his capabilities in Nottingham Forest's 3-1 win over Reading last season.

Garath McCleary vs Ivo Pinto

Pinto signed from Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb in January, going on to become Norwich's first choice at right back.

Like Chris Gunter for Reading, Pinto loves to get forward and join the attacks in order to support Jacob Murphy down the right hand side, something that has seen him earn four assists to his name.

However the full back has only kept four clean sheets so far this season in a Norwich defence has conceded 31 goals - one of various things that have put manager Alex Neil under pressure.

Looking to take advantage of this will be Garath McCleary, who has been in sensational form this season with seven goals and six assists for the Royals.

The right winger should be full of confidence having got two assists in last week's 3-2 win at Blackburn, first creating Dominic Samuel's goal with a brilliant defence splitting pass and then putting the ball on a plate for George Evans to bang home the winner in stoppage time.

Despite being seen with a protective boot after the game the winger should be able to play.

McCleary has looked back to his best so far this season, something that has contributed to the Royals being where they are in the league.

This is something that McCleary will need to do, if his side are going to give the Reading fans a late Christmas present by taking all three points.

For those that missed it, here is the Jamaican's man of the match display against Blackburn last week.

Dominic Samuel vs Ryan Bennett

The centre back is one of Norwich's longest serving players, having been at the club for nearly five years.

The 26 year old has played in most of the Canaries' games this season and has established himself as one of the main men in the heart of the defence. As previously mentioned that defence has conceded 31 goals in 22 league games.

This is something that Dominic Samuel will hope to take advantage of, the striker scored his second goal for the Royals in last week's win at Blackburn and will be looking to keep his place in the starting line up, with Yann Kermorgant pushing for a start having returned to fitness.

Samuel will be looking to use his pace to get behind a Norwich defence that is lacking confidence and organisation, something that served him well in the games against Burton Albion and Blackburn.