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Key Battles: Derby County v Reading FC

The key battles as Reading look to get to back to winning ways with a win at Derby.

Thomas Ince is one of the many threats that Derby County possess.
Thomas Ince is one of the many threats that Derby County possess.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Thomas Ince vs Jordan Obita

The former Liverpool academy product who in the past has played for Hull and Blackpool whilst they were in the Premier League has been one of the bright sparks for the Rams so far this season. Under managers Steve McLaren and Nigel Person, Ince has scored eight goals and has three assists to his name.

Last season Ince found the back of the net 12 times and got seven assists, as Derby finished in the Play Offs before they ultimately lost to Hull in the semi finals.

On his day Ince can be one of the best players in the Championship, with his pace, trickery, technique and the ability to find the back of the net, and it could be argued that he should be playing at a higher level.

The 24 year old, who can play across the front three and in midfield, has some history against Reading having scored the winner in Derby's 1-0 win at the Madjeski last season, and will be looking to repeat that when the sides meet at Pride Park on Saturday.

Looking to keep the talented winger quiet will be Jordan Obita. Like Chris Gunter Obita has not performed to what he is truly capable of and was arguably at fault for QPR's goal last time out having failed to stop Pawel Wszolek's cross for Jamie Mackie's goal.

Wszokek gave Obita a torrid time down the right hand side, which means the left back will have to step it up if he is going to contain one of the best wingers in the Championship.

Obita has to stop Ince cutting inside, getting crosses in and getting shots away. If he can do this then it should boost Reading's chances of coming away with a positive result.

Here's a video of Ince showcasing his talents.

Will Hughes vs Joey Van Den Berg

21-year-old Hughes has been at the club throughout his career, having come through the Derby academy. Since bursting on the scene a few years ago, Hughes has been one of the most talked-about centre midfielders in the Championship. Brilliant performances in his first two campaigns at Championship level saw him linked with English football's biggest clubs including Manchester United, Arsenal and most recently Everton.

After suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury early last season, Hughes is back to full fitness and is finally ready to show his potential once again, having recently signed a new contract that will keep him at Derby until June 2020.

So far this season, Hughes has one goal and three assists, however during the 2014/15 season where he was injury free he got two goals and six assists to his name.

Perhaps the best person to deal with Hughes' creativity is Joey Van Den Berg, the Dutchman being expected to move back to defensive midfield having played the last few games at centre back, following Paul McShane's return to full fitness and the arrival of new signing Tiago Ilori from Liverpool earlier this week.

As Reading fans have seen this season Van Den Berg has the ability to break play up and get a tackle in when needed.

He'll also take one for the team if it means the opposition get a free kick instead of a clear-cut opportunity being created, however the 30 year old is only one yellow card away from a two game suspension having picked up his ninth yellow card of the season in the 1-0 defeat against QPR last time out.

Van den Berg will have to close the space down and stop Hughes from getting time on the ball. If Hughes gets time, he is very much capable of creating a defence-splitting pass. But if van den Berg can disrupt the youngster's game, then hopefully this should stop the supply from the midfield to the strikers with Darren Bent and former Royal Matej Vydra looking to pounce.

Here's a video of Will Hughes demonstrating just what he's all about.

Richard Keogh vs Yann Kermorgant

The Republic of Ireland international is the captain and leader of the Rams, playing in every game for his side. Last season the centre half kept 19 clean sheets, as Derby finished in the Play Off places.

Keogh has kept up that trend so far this season with 14 clean sheets in 26 appearances and has conceded 26 goals in the process.

Looking to cause problems for Keogh will be Yann Kermorgant, the Frenchman is in a bit of form at the moment with three goals in his last three league appearances. That said, in the defeat against QPR Kermorgant received very little in terms of service - something that has to improve if he team are to come away with three points.