Despite the Royals claiming their first win in three games this week against Nottingham Forest, there remain a number of question marks over the future of manager Jaap Stam. A win against Forest’s arch-rivals Derby County could see some of this pressure lifted off the Dutchman, but given the Rams’ recent form, it will certainly be a tough ask at Pride Park.
Form (all comps): LWLLW
As well as their impressive win over Forest in midweek, there was good news off the pitch for Royals fans with Yann Kermorgant’s decision to postpone his retirement by extending his contract through to the summer of 2019. The talismanic Frenchman continues on his road to match fitness and could press for a start after coming off the bench on Tuesday night.
His re-introduction to the starting line-up could represent the only change Stam makes ahead of Saturday’s match, meaning a drop down to the bench for young Sam Smith.
Form (all comps): DWWWW
Unbeaten in seven, having won their last four and currently sitting in fifth position, the Rams have rediscovered their horns. Impressive away wins against Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday in their last two outings have got many talking about County’s possible pedigree to mount a sustained promotion push this time out, after several near-misses over the past few campaigns.
The only selection issues facing Rams’ manager Gary Rowett is deciding who to leave out of this weekend’s clash, with no fresh injury worries and a fiercely competitive squad meaning the Royals will have to be at their best to get anything from Saturday’s outing.
Lining up against his former employers will be the much-maligned Matej Vydra who, despite failing to impress during his expensive loan period with the Royals, has already netted five times in the league this season - more than any Reading player at this point.
Consistency is the key to any successful Championship campaign and so far, this is the area in which the Royals have really struggled. Despite an impressive performance against Forest, Derby look too good for Jaap Stam’s side at the moment.
Unfortunately, I can see the Rams taking all three points this weekend. 2-1.