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Three To Watch: Burton Albion (H)

Can Reading bounce back in their 500th game at the Madejski Stadium? Here are the three players from the Brewers to keep an eye on.

Burton Albion v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Jake Buxton

Jake Buxton returned to the Brewers during the summer transfer window, having had a previous spell at Burton from 2008-2010. Since re-joining the club, the defender has become a key man for Nigel Clough’s side, making 20 league appearances for the Brewers this season.

In terms of playing style, Buxton is a no-nonsense defender who if in doubt will clear the ball out into row Z. This can be seen by the fact that the centre-back has averaged 7.2 clearances per game - joint top in the Burton squad alongside centre back partner Ben Turner, and the 19th best in the Championship.

Additionally, the former Derby man wins 4.5 aerial balls per game - again the best of any Brewer and a respectable 18th across the division. This could therefore mean a tough afternoon in the air for Yann Kermorgant or Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, with Buxton.

Burton Albion v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Luke Murphy

The 28 year-old is into his second loan spell at the club from Leeds, having previously spent the second half of last season on loan from the Whites. Playing as a defensive midfielder, Murphy’s job will be to stop Reading’s creative players from getting on the ball and dictating the play in the Royals’ favour.

The former Manchester United man also loves to get a tackle in, and he does this more than anyone else in Nigel Clough’s team (average 2.9). For context, this is slightly more than Reading’s best tackler Joey Van Den Berg, who has averaged 2.7 tackles per game.

Murphy also commits fouls more regularly than anyone else in the team (1.7) and is second only to Tom Naylor in interceptions (1.8 to 2.1). These stats reinforce the fact that the loanee is not afraid to get stuck into challenges in order to break up the play, even if it means conceding a free-kick.

After all, Buxton’s previously-discussed aerial ability show that Burton are more than capable of defending from dead ball scenarios.

Lucas Akins

The final player that Reading fans should keep an eye on is attacking midfielder Lucas Akins, one of the longest-serving players at the club, having scored 30 goals in 152 appearances since joining the Brewers in July 2014.

In terms of playing style, Akins loves to run at defenders rather than getting crosses into the box. In fact, his 0.4 such deliveries per game is only fifth in the squad, suggesting that that’s not his strength.

In contrast, the Englishman is second for dribbles (1), but is also fouled more than anyone else in the Brewers team, showing that defenders often have to bring him down rather than let him get past them. However, Akins does make more ‘bad touches’ than any other player in the entire Championship (3.6), so he’s far from the finished product.

All stats come from WhoScored, apart from Akins’ career figures which come from Transfermarkt.