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Key Battles: Reading FC vs Rotherham United

Here are the key battles to look out for as Reading host already relegated Rotherham.

Rotherham United v Sunderland - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images

Tiago Ilori vs Danny Ward

Danny Ward completed a transfer from Huddersfield in January 2015 and the Millers' first choice striker.

Last season the 26-year-old only got four goals in 34 appearances. However, during this campaign he has bettered that, netting 11 league goals in 39 appearances - only three strikes behind Yann Kermorgant.

With the Royals playing 48 hours after the superb 3-1 win at Aston Villa on Saturday, I expect Jaap Stam to rest a few players.

Therefore Tiago Ilori could get his first start since his return from injury in place of Liam Moore, with the Portuguese centre-back looking to take his chance and impress his manager.

If Ilori can do a good job against Ward, then it will go a long way as defender tries to claim a place in the starting line-up in the future.

However, with Ward being over six foot tall, Ilori could have a real aerial battle on his hands (head).

Garath McCleary vs Joe Mattock

Left-back Joe Mattock completed a move from Sheffield Wednesday in June 2015 and is a key player in the Rotherham defence. With 32 league appearances the season, the 26-year-old is one of the first names on Paul Warne's team-sheet.

However Mattock has been part of a Millers defence that has conceded an incredible 94 goals, which is the worst record in the entire football league.

Looking to give Mattock a hard time will be Garath McCleary, who has had a great season so far with nine goals and eight assists. Having come on as a 65th minute substitute on Saturday, the 29 year old is expected to come in for Adrian Popa today.

However in recent games, the winger has lacked a bit of confidence. We all know what this player can produce on his day and if McCleary can cause problems against a leaky Rotherham defence then it should hopefully provide him with confidence to push on and deliver a good performance.

Yann Kermorgant vs Richard Wood

The final key battle of this game sees Yann Kermorgant face up Richard Wood in the Rotherham defence.

With two goals this season, 6ft 3in Wood can be lethal from set-pieces if he is not picked up on. However as previously mentioned, the centre-back is part of the worst defence in the football league.

With 14 league goals, Yann Kermorgant has made a key contribution to Reading's brilliant season with his goals winning vital points. It is not just in attack where he has contributed, but in defence by helping out to defend corners.

Having come on as a 69th minute substitute in the win at Villa Park, Kermorgant is expected to come back into the starting line-up, despite the impressive performance from Joseph Mendes.

If the 35-year-old can continue to make key contributions, then it should help the Royals get the three points they need in order to consolidate themselves in the play-off places.