Reading return to the Madejski Stadium today after their FA Cup adventure was cut short by Manchester United last weekend. The Royals did put in a positive performance though and José Gomes will hope to use this to galvanise his team for the tough campaign.
We welcome Nottingham Forest who are now manageress after parting company with Aitor Karanka on Friday. The Spaniard had been under enormous pressure as Forest gradually slipped out of the play off places despite heavily investing at the start of the season. They currently sit in seventh place in the Championship so will hope to kick start their top six push at the Mad Stad.
Reading’s build-up to this game has been dominated by Gomes’ actions in the transfer market to turn the club's season around. The Portuguese manager has brought in midfielders Lewis Baker and Ovie Ejaria from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively on loan while Josh Sims, David Edwards and Pelle Clement have been swiftly moved on. Time will tell how many more players will leave, with Gomes claiming that the squad is too big.
Can Reading add to the Forest’s woes or will the relegation fears continue for another week?
Form (all competitions): LLDLL
The Royals welcome back Tyler Blackett and Leandro Bacuna to the match day squad after their three match bans. Both players were indispensable before their suspension but now have a fight for their place after Omar Richards and Andy Rinomhota have earned rave reviews.
Loan Signings Lewis Baker and Ovie Ejaria will also be hoping to make an impression for their new club after signing for the club earlier in the week.
Tiago Ilori has been deemed fit to play to pair with Liam Moore at centre-back. Ilori had limped off against Manchester United last weekend and has had speculation surrounding him of a rumoured move to Sporting Lisbon. Jon Dadi Bödvarsson has also been passed fit to play as he looks to cement himself as Reading’s top marksmen. John O’Shea, Saeid Ezatolahi, Jordan Obita and Paul McShane all miss out through injury .
Top goalscorers (all competitions): Jon Dadi Bödvarsson & Yakou Meite (7)
Form (all competitions): DLDWL
Caretaker manager Simon Ireland has very few injury concerns coming into this game. Veteran defender Michael Dawson is the major absentee out with a hamstring injury, but he will act as Ireland’s assistant to against the Royals.
Defender Tobias Figueiredo is the other main doubt after missing the last two games following an injury picked up against QPR on December 22nd. First choice goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon is likely to return in goal after Luke Steele started in their 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend.
Lewis Grabban is in contention to return to play against his former employers after struggling with injury himself. The 30-year-old is currently Forest’s top goal scorer with 15 goals - he only managed three as a Royal in 17 appearances.
Top goalscorer (all competitions): Lewis Grabban (15)
Quick Fire Facts
- Reading have lost eight home games this season, which is the worst home record in the whole division
- Nottingham Forest have lost their last three away trips to the Madejski.
- Before beating Leeds on January 1st, Nottingham Forest had endured a winless run of five straight games. They haven’t won back to back matches in the Championship since September.
Reading will likely be boosted by their performance against United which they were very unlucky not to score, whilst Nottingham Forest have had a great start to the season but are now beginning to struggle like previous years.
For this reason, I feel that Reading will have more confidence on the ball than in their last home game against Swansea and the majority of the squad will be looking to impress to keep their places at the club. Whilst I feel that on their day, Forest can threaten Reading, due to their current situation I can see the Royals narrowly nicking this.
Reading 1-0 Nottingham Forest