Mangerless Reading travel to Rotherham for what is viewed by many fans as the Royals’ biggest game of the season. Reading slipped into the relegation zone after last week’s defeat to high-flying Sheffield United and, despite numerous rumours of a swift replacement for Paul Clement making the rounds on Twitter, caretaker boss Scott Marshall remains in charge.
Marshall’s side can leapfrog Rotherham with a win and, going forward, it could be viewed as a ‘six pointer’ with both sides struggling to stay in the division. A defeat for Reading could see them sink as low as 23rd in the league though! Can the Royals bring a positive result back to the Mad Stad or will Rotherham ease their own relegation fears?
Despite all the drama regarding the manager position going on at the moment, The Royals are boosted with key players returning to the side. Marshall has confirmed to the media that Jon Dadi Bödvarsson and Yakou Meite are back in training but warned neither are 100% fit. The duo are currently Reading’s top goalscorers with seven each and will be a massive boost to the team. It is very doubtful that Bödvarsson will be rushed back so soon as he is severely lacking match fitness after being ruled out for over six weeks with a back problem,
Marshall could keep faith with his selection from last weekend due to his fears of risking key players so soon after long injuries. Liam Moore remains sidelined through injury so Tom McIntyre could feature after travelling with the first team. A win for Reading could see them move to 20th, displacing Rotherham, as they boast a far better goal difference than the hosts.
Top goalscorers: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Yakou Meite (both 7)
Manager Paul Warne has confirmed Defender Clark Robertson is back in the squad after missing their last game through illness. Rotherham have experienced an injury crisis of late which has culminated in their slip to the bottom half of the table. Like Reading, The Millers welcome back several key players to the squad though, such as Matt Palmer, Joe Newell and Sean Raggett.
Rotherham come into the game winless in six and have failed to keep a clean sheet since October 23 when they played-in form Middlesbrough! The hosts face a difficult month ahead of fixtures as they welcome West Brom next week and play relegation rivals Bolton on Boxing Day. Failure to win either of these games could see them firmly in the bottom three by the end of 2018.
Top goalscorers: Ryan Manning, Jamie Proctor Michael Smith and Will Vaulks (all 4)
- The Royals have only won one away match out of 18 attempts in the Championship this season. That victory came against Preston North End in September in a 3-2 thriller!
- Rotherham have failed to beat Reading in their last three encounters.
- Rotherham are currently on a 13-game winless run. Their last victory was against high-flying Swansea in early November!
- Reading have struggled to score away from home in 2018 with them failing to score in 10 matches.
Both sides know this will be a key fixture that could determine their fate by the end of the season. A win for either team will give them a small but vital advantage in staying up this year. Despite Reading’s recent manager problems, they have been performing better compared to their start of the season but still not picking up back-to-wins.
Rotherham have the ability to test the Royals defence as they have scored in their last seven games. However, their leaky defence has been their downfall - very much like Reading this season. I can see Reading getting a victory here but it won’t be an easy task as many fans had predicted earlier in the season.
Rotherham United 1-2 Reading