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Key Battles Reading FC v Preston North End

Preston return to the Madejski Stadium just three months after walking away with all three points, so where will the key battles be played out on Saturday?

Danny Williams battles with Daniel Johnson at Deepdale last season
Danny Williams battles with Daniel Johnson at Deepdale last season
Getty images: Dave Thompson

For this article, I shall be looking at the battles that could determine who gets the first three points of the 2016/17 season.

Battle 1: Paul McShane vs Jermaine Beckford

The Jamaican striker scored against Reading the last time these two teams met and will be looking to continue that form this weekend. Beckford missed the majority of last season due to a knee injury and only played ten games for his side.

With his height and strength, Beckford will be the striker up top that Preston will look for in order to win headers and hold the ball up, allowing his teammates to join the attack.

This will be a fascinating battle between McShane and Beckford, with McShane known for his grit, determination and warrior type mentality. Whoever wins this battle will go a huge way as to which team comes out on top.

Battle 2: Danny Williams vs Daniel Johnson

The Jamaican midfielder was arguably Preston's man of the match when the Lilywhites last visited the Madjeski Stadium at the end of April with a goal and an assist.

Johnson caused all sorts of problems for Reading with his technique, winning headers, an eye for a pass and an eye for goal.

It will be Danny Williams job to stop Johnson from dictating the play when Preston have the ball, breaking play up and stop Johnson from linking with the two strikers in Joe Garner and Beckford.

If Williams can do this then this will be a huge gain for Reading, as they'll be stopping Preston's main man in midfield from replicating his performance from last season.

Battle 3: Roy Beerens vs Greg Cunningham

Providing Beerens doesn't pick up an injury in training this week (curse of the commentator), the Dutchman is in line to make his competitive debut at the weekend.

Looking to stop him will be Republic of Ireland left back Greg Cunningham, who played 46 games last season.

Beerens will be looking to make his mark on English football right from the off and judging from the 45 minutes that he got against Bournemouth in pre season, he could be an exciting player for the Royals this season.

It will be interesting to see if Cunningham will cope with Beerens with his trickery and pace.

If Beerens can win the battle against the Preston left back, then it will go a long way in Reading hopefully getting the  three points on the opening day of the 2016/17 season.

For those willing here are the highlights of Reading's defeat to Preston last season at the Madjeski.