Madejski Stadium, 3pm KO
Just as things were seemingly looking up in Berkshire, Reading stumbled to a disappointing 2-0 away loss at Portman Road, with early goals from Callum Connolly and Joe Garner sealing a first defeat in six for The Royals. The result said more about the visitors than it did Mick McCarthy’s men, with Jaap Stam’s side enjoying a lot of possession in dangerous areas, but never quite able to create any clear-cut chances. Stam will be viewing this as a must-win game as The Royals look to close a 10-point gap between themselves and the top six.
Form (all comps): DWWDL
A torrid performance from Tyler Blackett against Ipswich could see him dropped from the starting XI, with Chris Gunter potentially shifting to left-back and Leandro Bacuna dropping into the back line, although Omar Richards will also be pushing for a start.
The Royals have a host of players on the brink of returns. John Swift’s anticipated return to first-team action is apparently imminent, although a start here looks unlikely, whilst George Evans and Joseph Mendes are expected to be back in contention some time in January.
Garath McCleary and Callum Harriott are also edging closer to a return, but remain sidelined for this clash, whilst Jordan Obita continues to miss out following a cruciate ligament injury he picked up late on against Hull City earlier in the season.
Stam’s big decision heading into this clash surrounds whether or not to start Jon Dadi Bodvarsson ahead of Yann Kermorgant, who has struggled to replicate last season’s performances after recovering from a hip injury obtained in pre-season.
Form (all comps): DLLLW
Nigel Clough has a large squad at his disposal for The Brewers’ third ever trip to the Madejski Stadium, with attacking duo Joe Mason and Liam Boyce the only injury concerns. The latter is yet to make a competitive appearance for Burton since becoming the club’s record transfer in the summer.
Following an impressive performance against Bolton last weekend, Clough will likely name an unchanged starting XI, with Lucas Akins, Will Miller and goalscorer Lloyd Dyer sitting in behind Marvin Sordell up top.
What do the stats say?
- Reading have scored three or more goals in all three of their previous encounters with Burton Albion.
- Burton have the second worst attacking and defensive records in the league, having scored just 14 and conceded 40 this season.
- Yann Kermorgant’s last Championship goal came against Burton (excluding play-offs) – he’ll be looking to open his account for the season here.
What about the history?
Head to Head
Burton Albion: 0
How can I follow the game?
There will be audio coverage of the game on BBC Berkshire at 104.4FM, but not online. Overseas fans can follow the game on iFollow.
Burton were being written off as relegation certainties prior to last weekend’s win, but will have to be taken seriously by The Royals to avoid an upset here. A lack of attacking firepower has proven a real stumbling block for The Brewers, but with Kermorgant still finding his feet and Sone Aluko yet to hit a rich vein of goalscoring form, Reading also have their attacking shortcomings.
That said, Burton have struggled on their travels this season and have never beaten Reading in a competitive game. I can’t see that changing here. 3-0.