(Graphic via footballformation.co.uk)
Something's that gone quietly unnoticed about Brian McDermott's Reading in the last few months is that the back five has been so consistent. Ali Al-Habsi's shaken off his errors from earlier in the season, keeping Jonathan Bond out of the picture.
In front of him, Chris Gunter and Paul McShane are pretty obvious picks at right back and centre half respectively. Elsewhere, youngsters Jake Cooper and Jordan Obita are becoming more confident by the week, resulting in little minimal minutes for Anton Ferdinand and Andrew Taylor. I'm a fan of that experienced duo, but Cooper and Obita are the future for Reading, so I see no need to change that at the moment.
For me, the 4-4-2 diamond is a really interesting experiment. Forget about which players Brian McDermott will be playing next season - he needs to actually have an effective system to line them up in. And, judging from the Forest game, the diamond is a system that suits a number of our midfielders. Oliver Norwood is at his most effective as the 'quarterback' of the team, Stephen Quinn and Danny Williams provide balance in front of him, whereas Lucas Piazon is best suited to that free role behind the strikers.
Up top, Yann Kermorgant is an experienced player capable of leading the line week in, week out. The only real question is who should partner him. In the presumed injury absence of Deniss Rakels (more on him later), Matej Vydra edges out Simon Cox (also, more on him later).
Subs: Bond, Taylor, Ferdinand, Evans, John, Rakels, Cox.
Some things Reading could try on Saturday
Essentially, this boils down to: who has Brian McDermott not seen much of yet? Jonathan Bond is surely a longer term option than Ali Al-Habsi, but - to my mind - hasn't yet featured under the former Slough boss. Apart from him, Andrew Taylor and Anton Ferdinand will want chances at left back/centre back to earn permanent contracts.
Off the bench, I'd like to see George Evans and Deniss Rakels both feature at some point. Evans seems to be the best alternative to Oliver Norwood as a deep lying playmaker, with Rakels a quick, lively partner to play off Yann Kermorgant.
As a wild card - and I know this won't happen - I'd also be interested to see Simon Cox play in Lucas Piazon's spot. For me, Cox was at his best under Nigel Adkins playing off Glenn Murray at the start of the last season - could he do something similar in behind a strike partnership? He certainly has the energy to link the midfield and attack, whilst arguably not being clinical enough to play as an out and out striker.
We'd love to know what team YOU think Brian McDermott should play against Birmingham City. Tell us in the comments section.