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Key Battles: Reading FC v Blackburn Rovers

The key battles ahead of tonight's game.

Reading v Aston Villa - Sky Bet Championship
Can this man get himself back into form
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Liam Moore vs Lucas Joao

The Portuguese striker is on loan at Blackburn having been signed from Sheffield Wednesday in January. The striker is expected to start as one of the main strikers following his side’s narrow defeat at Brighton during the weekend. Last season Joao scored six goals in 40 appearances. This may not sound much, but the twice-capped Portuguese international has the ability to pull the strings if given the opportunity.

Unlike during the first half of this season for his parent club, Joao has got off the mark for Rovers with three goals in 16 appearances.

Looking to keep Joao quiet will be Liam Moore. The centre back produced yet another wonderful defensive display, keeping out the league's top goalscorer Chris Wood from adding to his impressive goal tally.

Jaap Stam now has a number of central defenders to choose from, however I expect him to keep the same centre half pairing as against Leeds, with Tyler Blackett keeping his place in the starting line up.

Here is a taster of what Joao can offer during his time at Sheffield Wednesday.

Jordan Obita vs Elliott Bennett

Elliott Bennett has a enjoyed a run in the first team following Tony Mowbray's appointment as manager. The winger has started the last three games, having made 18 appearances this season, scoring two goals.

Last season, Bennett made 36 appearances, scoring two goals and earning three assists to his name, as Blackburn finished comfortably in mid-table.

It is worth noting that Bennett scored in his last appearance against Reading. Having scored in the 3-1 win against the Royals, on the final day of last season.

The Jamaican will be looking to replicate that when two teams meet at the Madejski Stadium, with Blackburn looking to get themselves out of the relegation zone.

Despite going off injured at the weekend, Jordan Obita is expected to keep his place at left back.

Blackburn will likely set up to try and come away with a point, which could lead to Rovers sticking 10 men behind the ball for the whole 90 minutes.

As well as defending, Obita will have to do his bit in attack. This will mean that the defender will have to get forward, supporting the wingers and provide an alternative option to passing through the middle.

If he can do this, then it could provide a platform for the Royals to break Blackburn defence down and get the three points.

Garath McCleary vs Charlie Mulgrew

Since signing from Celtic in the summer, Charlie Mulgrew has become a key player for Blackburn's back four.

Like Jordan Obita, Mulgrew loves get forward this is something that has seen the Scottish international score two goals and earn one assist to his name.

However, Mulgrew has been part of a defence that has conceded 58 goals this season. Only two teams—Nottingham Forest and Rotherham—have conceded more goals in the Championship.

Looking to take advantage of Blackburn's fragile back four will be Garath McCleary.

With eight goals and eight assists in this season, McCleary has been one of the standout players in this Reading team.

However, the Jamaican once again had a quiet game against Leeds with the winger hardly making an impact during the game.

McCleary has to start getting back into form, replicating those incredible performances in the first half of the season and making it count when it matters.

We all what this player can produce on his day with his trickery and skill. If the 29-year-old can do that against a delicate back line, then it could be the deciding factor come the final whistle.