After the two-week international break, the Championship kicks back into life with an important test for both sides. Hosts Preston North End find themselves slumped near the bottom of the league after a match-match winless run. They face a Reading side who are rock bottom both in form and in confidence.
The Royals have had more press coverage regarding their boardroom confidence than their playing performances before the international break, culminating with the news on Wednesday that Technical Director Brian Tevreden would be unexpectedly leaving the club. Tevreden, who has been with the club for more than two-and-a-half years, leaves under a cloud of controversy after rumours of tensions between himself and Chief Executive Ron Gourlay regarding transfers.
Quite frankly the club is in turmoil and hopefully the playing performances can bring back some positivity to the club. For me personally it would be a nice 22nd birthday present for myself if Reading can get a result at Preston North End (fingers crossed!).
Form: LDDLL (all competitions)
The main news for the Royals is that striker Jon Dadi Bodvarsson is now fit for selection after missing the last game through injury. The Icelander will likely start upfront alongside Sam Baldock with Clement using a 4-4-2 this season. The pressure on the Royals’ boss is heating up as his side have only picked up two points from a possible 18, sitting rock bottom of the Championship.
New signing Saeid Ezatolahi will not play for the Royals this week after only finalising his Visa late this week - he’ll join the squad on Monday. Fellow midfielder David Meyler is an injury doubt, whilst Garath McCleary, Callum Harriott, Jordan Obita, Adrian Popa and Dave Edwards are all out. However, Josh Sims will hope to feature after a bright cameo in the defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.
Top goalscorer: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (3)
Preston North End
Form: DLLWD (all competitions)
Alex Neil’s side is facing a test of squad selection and match fitness as it will the first of seven games in 22 days for his team. Like Reading, Preston have had a horrible run of form which has been the result of throwing away winning positions and disciplinary issues. As a result, they have plummeted down to the lower half of the table which has shocked some bookies who viewed them as a dark horse to challenge for the top six.
Preston’s main concern is in midfield with Ben Pearson sitting out the first of three matches for his red card from their last match against Bolton Wanderers. Ryan Ledson is also missing with him being into his second match of his three-game ban. Sean Maguire and Calum Woods are both missing with hamstring injuries which is pushing Preston’s squad depth to the limit.
Preston are also missing a clinical striker up front compared to last season after top goalscorer Jordan Hugill departed the club in January to West Ham and he wasn’t replaced. However, forward Callum Robinson will be one to watch after opening his account for the club against Bolton earlier this month.
Top goalscorers: Brandon Barker, Alan Browne, Graham Burke (2)
- Reading have lost their last three matches at Deepdale, all without scoring a goal.
- Our last league win came in April 2018, which was against Preston ironically.
- However, the Royals have not won back-to-back matches against Preston since 2010.
- Paul Clement has yet to register an away win in his 13 away matches as Reading manager (D3 L10).
Both sides will be looking to bounce back after the international break with a positive result and get players back to match fitness. Preston have a good record against Reading which adds to the psychological edge for their players and the crowd. Reading currently have yet to find any consistent positives in their play and seem to be always tinkering with formations and strategies when they fall behind.
I can see this being a tight match as both sides are not at full strength and confidence which could mean they will be happy with a draw in order to stop their respective slumps.
Preston 1-1 Reading
How do you think the game will go? Tell us in the comments.