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Three To Watch: Barnsley (A)

Can Reading get back to winning ways? Here are the three men from Barnsley to keep an eye on.

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

Ezekiel Fryers

Ezekiel Fryers is a new signing at Barnsley having completed a move from Crystal Palace on a free transfer in the summer. The former Manchester United and Spurs left-back has only made 10 starts this season, but does have one goal and one assist to his name.

Fryers is a big attacking threat for the Tykes as he loves to get forward down the left flank - shown by his 0.8 dribbles per game - a relatively high number for a defender. When he gets into the final third, he typically puts in a cross rather than going for goal - he is joint second in Paul Heckingbottom’s squad for average key passes (1.2) and crosses (1) made.

Defensively, Fryers is a mature left back who knows how to deal with a tricky winger that tries to get past him. Although his tackling rate isn’t too high (1.8 per game puts him seventh), his extremely low average number of fouls (0.1) is the lowest of any Barnsley player.

Despite being dropped for Barnsley’s four games after the 3-0 Reading win in November, Fryers got 90 minutes last time out in their last fixture - a 0-0 with ninth-placed Preston. The defender will be a key player if the Tykes are to get their second clean sheet on the bounce.

Barnsley v Huddersfield Town - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images

Adam Hammill

The 29 year old is one of the current longest serving players at the club, having amassed 182 appearances and scoring 26 goals in two separate spells for Barnsley between Febuary 2009 and January 2011. He then re-signed as a free agent in November 2015.

Hammill is also real fans’ favourite at Oakwell, having scored against Walsall in the League One play-off semi-final second leg and then scoring a wonder-strike as Barnsley beat Millwall 3-1 in the play-off final at Wembley. You can see that in this video below.

He may not have scored or got an assist in the league this season, but make no mistake - this is a player that can still cause problems for any defence.

For example, Hammill has averaged 1.6 shots per game, with only Harvey Barnes (1.7) and Tom Bradshaw (2.2) getting more. This suggests that the former Huddersfield man likes to cut inside and get shots away on goal.

Secondly, the right winger who was once on the books of Southampton likes to send crosses into the box. This can be seen by the fact that the former Wolves man has averaged 1.5 crosses per game- the best of anyone in the Barnsley side. For context, Sone Aluko and Modou Barrow have each averaged just 1.1 and 0.3 crosses per match respectively.

This suggests that Barnsley’s game plan will be to get as many crosses as possible into the Reading penalty area for the likes of Bradshaw to take of advantage of. With Reading conceding nine goals in their last five games, the Royals defence will need to be on guard to deal with any troublesome deliveries that come their way.

Tom Bradshaw

Tom Bradshaw will be a familiar name to Reading fans, having been heavily linked with a move to RG2 during Brian McDermott’s second spell as Royals manager. The former Walsall man is the Tykes leading goal-scorer with nine goals in 27 appearances in all competitions.

He has decent a shooting accuracy, with 15 of his 29 shots being on target, suggesting that if given time and space he’ll find the target. Additionally, Bradshaw has won 2.6 of his aerial duels per game, which incidentally is the sixth best in the Barnsley side.

This therefore suggests that it could be a fascinating and tough battle between Bradshaw and Paul McShane and Liam Moore.

With the striker scoring 40 goals for Walsall in 86 appearances for the Saddlers, it is evident that Bradshaw is a natural goal-scorer. As a result, all efforts from the Reading defence should be made at containing this striker from scoring and causing more pain and misery for Jaap Stam’s team.