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Reading FC vs Nottingham Forest: Key Battles As Matt Mills Returns To Madejski

Reading host Nottingham Forest in a mid-week mid-table clash, and Sam looks at the key match-ups that could decide the game at the Madejski Stadium.

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Federico Macheda vs Paul McShane

Federico Macheda is in some ways symbolic of the whole Forest team - full of promise but never quite living up to it. After a superb goal against Aston Villa aged only 17 he quickly became the man of the moment and a successful product of the Manchester United conveyor belt academy. Or so we thought. After a string of serious injuries and unsuccessful loan spells he finds himself at Forest ironically on loan (from Cardiff however.) Standing at 6ft 2in, Macheda looks to lead the line against the Royals for only his fourth Forest appearance. Although he might not quite be the next big thing like people once thought, Macheda is still a classy player with an excellent touch and an eye for goal.

Paul McShane marshalled his defence so well at the start of the season and Reading fans will be hoping we can start to see more of the same again. The Royals' defence has looked disjointed at times but in my opinion, the Republic of Ireland international is still a mainstay and deservedly captain of this Reading team. He will have to keep a watchful eye on Macheda, but getting tight to him and putting in some heavy challenges should be more than enough to disrupt the Italian's game.

Matej Vydra vs Matt Mills

Here we see a Royals player that promised so much in the past and a Royals player that promised so much this season. Unfortunately both have rather failed to deliver. Once a Reading captain, Matt Mills left for Leicester amidst some controversy. He never quite lived up to the reported £5 million transfer fee, only making 25 appearances for the Foxes. He went on to play for Bolton and then Forest, who he now captains. Mills was once described by Brian McDermott as "inspirational" and although his career has faltered since leaving the Madejski Stadium, he is still a classy centre half. Always a commanding presence and a threat from set pieces, Mills will provide a challenge both in attack and in defence.

Matej Vydra's loan spell at reading was an exciting prospect when it was first announced and he was really Steve Clarke's marquee signing. But with only two league goals in 22 Championship appearances, he has failed to impress this season. That being said, both Clarke and McDermott have struggled to find a system that gets the best out of Vydra and the best may still be to come from the Czech forward. Buoyed by a goal in the international break, Vydra will have a point to prove to both Royals fans and potential suitors for next season. To get the best out of Vydra he must be allowed to run at Mills and the rest of the Forest defence. The forward is blisteringly quick and if he gets a decent ball through he will more often than not get to it. Whether he can finish his chances or not however will be crucial on Tuesday.

Oliver Norwood vs David Vaughan

I think that Norwood has struggled in the 4-1-4-1 formation that Brian McDermott has taken to recently. He often looks lost playing higher up the pitch in front of Michael Hector. He does not particularly like having to push on and support the attackers but seems to prefer controlling the game from a deeper role as more of a sitting play maker.  Too often he will get caught on the ball or simply pass it backwards or sideways instead of finding the more penetrating passes required to unlock defences. That being said, when he is on top of his game he is one of the best passers of the ball in the current Reading team. If he plays well against Forest then the Royals attackers should have a much more fruitful game.

Vaughan is less of a ball playing centre mid and more of an old fashioned middle of the park bruiser. His main job will be breaking up Reading attacks and making sure no one has any time on the ball. He does have a bit of a mean streak however with eight yellow cards and one red card this season. Although he won't offer much going forward, he is a key part of the Forest defensive unit. If Reading can get past him they can have a real go at the visitors' defence.