Neil Harris’ Millwall will become the latest team to make the trip to the Madejski on Saturday as the Lions look to avenge a 3-1 extra-time defeat at the same venue back in August in the Carabao Cup 2nd Round.
Things were looking a lot rosier for the Royals back in August, although an emphatic 3-1 win over fellow strugglers Burton Albion has seemingly helped ease pressures on manager Jaap Stam. Results around the grounds on Tuesday night saw Reading extend their buffer over the drop zone to six points, although Saturday’s hosts are by no means safe and with three consecutive home defeats behind them, the Royals will be desperate to end their home-form hoodoo with a win here.
Form (all comps): DWLLW
New signings Tommy Elphick and Chris Martin look set to be handed full debuts as the Royals welcome Millwall to RG2, with the 3-5-2 system used against Burton potentially set to feature once again here.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson will almost certainly start up top alongside Derby loanee Martin, with Modou Barrow and Sone Aluko in danger of dropping out of the side. Elsewhere, Omar Richards is closing in on a return from injury and could make the bench for the hosts.
Liam Kelly was absent from the matchday squad as Reading defeated Burton 3-1 and is a doubt here, whilst John Swift and Paul McShane are still out with hamstring injuries. Callum Harriott is closing in on a return after almost a year on the sidelines but isn’t expected to feature for the first-team for at least a few more weeks.
Elsewhere there has been little change in terms of team news, with Jaap Stam likely to field a settled lineup as he looks back-to-back wins for the first time since November.
Form (all comps): WDWDD
The Lions head to the ‘Mad Stad’ unbeaten in five in all competitions and boosted by the return of fan-favourite Tim Cahill, with the 38-year-old sealing an emotional return to The Den earlier this week. The Aussie is in with a chance of starting against the Royals on Saturday, although Neil Harris will have to choose between two of Cahill and Tom Elliot, Lee Gregory and Steve Morison up top.
As well as Cahill, Neil Harris added experienced defender Jason Shackell and Wolves winger Ben Marshall to the ranks on loan until the end of the season. The duo could both be handed starts here, with Harris keen to rotate his deep squad.
Winger Aiden O’Brien continues his return from an ankle injury and will play no part for the visitors. Byron Webster and Shane Ferguson are both long-term absentees and will miss out on the trip to the Madejski.
The Royals haven't lost in their last nine home games against Millwall, although if recent form is anything to go by, that record could be in danger here. With Liam Moore’s future seemingly settled and Tommy Elphick coming in to steady the defence, Reading should be in a good place to deal with the inevitable aerial bombardment from the visitors, so it will be the willingness of Reading to venture forward and give the Millwall defence something to worry about that will decide this game.