The Carabao Cup comes to town as Reading take on Garry Monk’s Birmingham City at the Madejski Stadium, with the Royals looking to record their first win of the season. The Blues come into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat away to Middlesbrough on Saturday, with Britt Assombolonga’s 12th minute strike eventually being the difference against Monk’s former side.
Judging by tweets and reviews from Brum fans, they were disappointed with their side’s performance on Saturday, most notably Jota who was singled out for his poor performance. However, their starting XI will undoubtedly be much-changed from their team at the weekend so there will be several players who will be looking to make the most of the chance they will be given for Birmingham in RG2.
City’s transfer window was a disappointing one for the supporters, mainly due to being handed a transfer embargo preventing them from spending much money during the summer. Their dealings included the permanent arrivals of Lee Camp and Kristian Pedersen and the loan signings of Gary Gardner, Omar Bogle and Connor Mahoney, none of which are too inspiring (not like Reading’s were much better).
Former Reading target Bogle hasn’t hit the heights since he left Grimsby for Wigan Athletic in January 2017, and has turned out for Cardiff City and Peterborough United before he was loaned back to the Championship from the newly promoted Bluebirds.
Gary Gardner arrived at the Blues from rivals Aston Villa, joining his brother Craig in Birmingham’s midfield. He is far from the most inspirational signing they could have made, but he is quite reliable and rarely lets his side down, which is a good trait to have.
Mahoney is not a player I can say much about as I haven’t seen too much of him, but as a winger, 0 goals in 41 competitive games isn’t great. I understand that scoring is not a winger’s main job, but not scoring at all is pretty poor and Birmingham fans will hope that he improves that record this season.
Garry Monk has used a 4-4-2 formation in the first two games and this is how I expect them to line up:
Lee Camp; Josh Cogley, Harlee Dean, Wes Harding, Krisitan Pedersen; Connor Mahoney, Maikel Kieftenbeld, Gary Gardner, Viv Solomon-Otabor; Omar Bogle, Lucas Jutkiewicz
It is difficult to pick out key players from the Birmingham side because it is going to be a much-changed line up, however if the XI is how I have predicted, I think it will be a big game for young centre-back Wes Harding.
The 21 year-old was named amongst the substitutes against Middlesbrough on Saturday and he will be looking forward to the opportunity against the Royals. Birmingham’s strikeforce will be key against Reading as the Royals will likely be using a youthful defence (excluding possibly Liam Moore), so the experience of Lucas Jutkiewicz and the potential quality of Omar Bogle could cause problems for the Reading backline.