Reading’s defensive woes continue
Considering Reading have had some absolutely shocking defensive displays this season, I think it is fair to suggest that this is likely to continue in the final few games of the season - especially considering that Jordan Obita, Paul McShane and Tommy Elphick are still missing through injury.
With players like Tyler Blackett and Tiago Ilori having some bad displays in recent weeks as well it is increasingly unlikely that the Royals will go the last couple of months of the season without any major defensive slip-ups despite them being in a position where defensive mistakes are the last thing they can afford.
As I mentioned, the Royals are missing three key defenders and have had plenty of other players out injured throughout the season, including John Swift, Garath McCleary and Modou Barrow to name but a few.
With McCleary pulling up injured once again in the previous Reading fixture against Sheffield United it does seem almost an inevitability that Reading will lose at least one more player in their starting XI to injury which is, once again, another problem the Royals cannot afford at such a key part of the season.
Callum Harriott will not make an appearance
Talking of injuries we get on to perhaps the most certain of the five scenarios to occur between now and the end of the season. Callum Harriott signed for Reading last season from Charlton Athletic and made 16 appearances in total, scoring three goals. Harriott suffered a hamstring injury at the beginning of 2017 against Fulham and has not played since.
He was expected to be ready to play at the start of this season but suffered a further setback in training and after over a year out it seems massively unlikely that the 23-year-old will make an appearance this season - even with fellow wingers Adrian Popa and Roy Beerens leaving on loan and permanently respectively in January.
Attendances continue to drop
Should performances continue in a similar vein to how they have for the majority of the season then do not be surprised to see attendances continue to fall. The midweek fixture against Sheffield United was the lowest league attendance of the season at the Madejski and while the mere 6,000 that attended that game may not be eclipsed, there may be similar numbers of fans present at the remaining Royals home fixtures should they continue to battle relegation.
If the 6,769 attendance figure from last night is correct, it was the lowest crowd at the Madejski Stadium for a league game since December 1999. Pretty damning. #ReadingFC— The Tilehurst End (@TheTilehurstEnd) February 28, 2018
Here lies the big question surrounding the final stage of the season - will Reading get relegated? It is almost impossible to answer at this point but Reading do lie in 18th place, just four points off the relegation zone and do have a game in hand due to this weekend’s postponement (albeit against league leader’s Wolves).
The Royals are one of seven teams in contention for League One football next year alongside Sunderland, Burton, Birmingham, Barnsley, Hull and Bolton, two of which (Bolton and Sunderland) they still have to play. It is a difficult situation to be in but in terms of the table Reading sit in a better position than all other six sides but in terms of form they are well and truly struggling and every single game will be massively important for the Royals should they stay up.