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Reading's 2016/17 Fixtures Released

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First up: Preston at home. To finish: Burton away. In between, 44 games that will decide whether it's glory or despair for Reading in May 2017.

The big day has arrived. We've had to wait for a week after the Premier League fixtures were released, but finally, the 24 teams that will contest the English Championship can start to plan their campaigns.

First up for Reading, we're back where we finished things at the Madejski last season - a home match against Preston North End. Simon Grayson's squad confounded many expectations by finishing comfortably in the top half of the Championship table, but it'll be a good early test for Jaap Stam and his squad. It soon gets tricky after that - the first three away trips of the season are at Wolves, Newcastle and Cardiff, with an early home game against play-off final runners-up Brighton and Hove Albion thrown in for good measure. A tough start for Stam.

Everyone loves finding out the festive season fixtures, and the good news for Royals fans is that you won't have to worry about a long drive on Boxing Day or New Year's Eve (if you live near the Madejski of course!). The 26th of December sees Norwich City come to Berkshire whilst on the 31st it's the turn of Fulham to visit the Mad Stad. And the first game of 2017 will no doubt be a popular away day as Jaap Stam* (*TBC) takes his squad to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City on the 2nd of January.

And to finish the season, two promoted sides! The last home game of the 2016-17 regular season sees us face Wigan Athletic, whilst Inflatable Day will descend upon the peaceful town of Burton-on-Trent to finish us up on the 7th of May.

The eye-catching games will naturally come against the relegated Premier League sides and the bad news for many is that Newcastle away, possibly the biggest away day of all this season, falls on Wednesday 17th August. It's then a wait until April to head to another "fallen giant" parachuting safely back down to earth the second tier - Norwich and Villa trips back to back. The home games could be quite tasty as well, with both the Villans and the Magpies visiting on a Tuesday night.

And as for those local away days... Brentford away is another Tuesday nighter, on the 27th of September. The fake hoops of QPR will be expecting us on the 15th of October. The trip to Fulham, "the place where everything changed" last year, will be on the 3rd of December.

You can find a full list of the fixtures, as well as a handy tool which syncs them to your calendar, on the official site.

So there's your schedule for the upcoming season. I'm sure there'll be plenty of over-analysis (guilty as charged) in the coming days, but for now we'll just sit and dream of winning the league at the Pirelli Stadium...