Championship football returns this weekend after another uneventful international break - well apart from England’s win against Croatia ;)
The two week hiatus had put a halt to Reading’s recent revival but has also enabled them to recoup following a gruelling schedule. Paul Clement remains in charge after speculation he would be replaced. His future is still in the balance though as the team looks to break away from the relegation zone in order to better place themselves to recruit during the January transfer window.
First up, the Royals travel to Wigan with hopes of kick-starting their form again. Can we bring home the three points or will our poor recent away form continue?
The hosts also seem to be experiencing speculation about their manager’s future, but in this case he is being sort after for another role. Paul Cook has been rumoured to be the leading candidate for the unoccupied Republic of Ireland job after Martin O’Neil resigned on Wednesday.
Injury wise, left-back Antonee Robinson suffered an ankle problem while away on international duty for the USA. He joins centre-back Chey Dunkley in the treatment room which means Wigan will be playing with a much-changed defence.
The Latics face Blackburn and Bolton after Reading, with a couple more defeats potentially sinking them into the drop zone. However, they have been boosted by the return of striker Will Grigg from injury. The Northern Irishman will look to reignite his famous scoring fire after his time on the sidelines.
Top goalscorer (all competitions): Nick Powell (4)
Despite the international break, Paul Clement still faces plenty of injury worries ahead of his team selection. He confirmed in his press conference on Thursday that Mo Barrow is unwell and will not be selected for the squad. The Gambian winger had only just broken back into the team after being excluded due to “disciplinary issues”. In form Yakou Meite looks set to play after returning from Ivory Coast duty without aggravating his existing injury. Meite is now level with Jon Dadi Bödvarsson as Reading’s top goal scorer with 7 goals.
Clement seems to have listened to the Royals fan base by placing Danny Loader in first team training after his impressive form with the Under 23s. With Bödvarsson out for a minimum of six weeks and replacements such as Sam Baldock and Marc McNulty misfiring, we could see the young forward being selected.
In the Goalkeeping department, Vito Mannone has returned to first team training after a long injury spell. However, the Italian is still being assessed and is a doubt going into the game. Clement could remain loyal to Anssi Jaakkola after he had displaced Sam Walker for the Ipswich game.
Top goalscorers (all competitions): Jon Dadi Bödvarsson & Yakou Meite (7)
Quick Fire Facts
- Wigan have lost four back to back games since their win over West Brom on October 20th.
- Out of the 17 games played this season, Reading have only failed to score on four occasions (against Nottingham Forrest, Bolton, QPR, Swansea).
- Wigan have failed to score more than two goals in a game since their 3-0 win over Stoke City on August 22nd.
Whilst the international break has not been kind to either team, it looks like Reading are the more in form side (dare I say) due to their recent revival in results. Wigan were glad to see the break after their four consecutive defeats and their manager is now being linked away. Whilst the Royals have been gaining points in recent games, they are still conceding early and failing to beat relegation rivals. Both sides desperately need a win so the tension will be high. But I can see Reading just edging out Wigan as their key players have managed to avoid injury during the break.
Wigan Athletic 0-2 Reading