Reading return to action this evening as they take on Russell Martin’s Swansea City at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
With a severe lack of squad depth, it would be surprising not to see wholesale changes from last weekend’s defeat in Staffordshire. That means the likes of John Swift, Michael Morrison, Josh Laurent and Lucas Joao are all unlikely to appear in the starting lineup - but it could give some of the club’s youngsters an unexpected chance to make their mark.
Tonight’s opposition are also likely to experiment in this tie with Russell Martin only just arriving as new manager, setting up what could be a fascinating match for those keen to see fringe players be involved.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of this match against the Swans.
What? Carabao Cup Round 1
Who? Swansea City
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Tuesday 10th August 2021
Opposition Manager? Russell Martin
The Stoke City game at the weekend highlighted the need for signings, but there were also a few promising signs.
Femi Azeez looks like he can give us something different going forward, Josh Laurent was reliable as ever and John Swift played a big part in the game. If the Royals can add five or six recruits to their squad before the end of the month, we will be in a much better position but whether we will be able to do that remains to be seen.
Someone like Kadeem Harris would come in handy as another option on the wing, along with another wide man to bolster that area in the absence of Yakou Meite, a first-choice left-back, a central midfielder and a forward. Getting those five over the line could be vital for the Royals who look vulnerable at this stage.
After a turbulent summer at the Liberty Stadium, it’s vital they keep hold of captain Matt Grimes. Steve Cooper and Andre Ayew’s departures were bad enough without the possible loss of another key figure - and new manager Russell Martin will be hoping to keep hold of him amid interest from the Premier League and Championship.
They also need to reinvest the money they received from the sales of the likes of Joe Rodon, Oliver McBurnie, Dan James and others. Hardly any of this revenue generated seems to have gone back into the first team.
Under a promising young manager with key areas to address, they need to start spending to give themselves the best possible chance of being in and around the play-offs again in the near future. This will be a difficult task without previous top scorer Ayew, but they will be hoping new signing Joel Piroe can step up to the plate and be a real force alongside Jamal Lowe.
One To Watch: Yan Dhanda
Although Jamie Paterson’s arrival in Wales may have harmed Yan Dhanda’s first-team chances, this could allow to enable him to start tonight as one of the Welsh outfit’s fringe players.
The 22-year-old was linked with a move to Anderlecht in the summer but has stayed at the Liberty Stadium thus far. And the possible departure could potentially open up a spot in midfield alongside Korey Smith and Jay Fulton.
Dhanda may not have showcased his full potential since his move from Liverpool in 2018, but he must be some good to be attracting interest from Europe and with a new manager at the helm, perhaps this will be his breakthrough season.
He deserves a sufficient chance to show what he can do after not being given a full opportunity to flourish under Steve Cooper.
The Last Meeting:
Reading 2-2 Swansea City
The Last Carabao Cup Game:
Reading 0-1 Luton Town
- Reading have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last six Carabao Cup ties. The last came at home in a 2-0 win against Birmingham City in August 2018.
- The Royals have conceded ten goals in their last three fixtures at home against the Swans.
- Swansea City are unbeaten in their last 15 competitive meetings with their opponents tonight. Can they make it 16?
- However, the Welsh side haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet in any of their last six league games. An opportunity for Reading to break their Swansea curse?
My Reading lineup: Southwood, Samuels, Stickland, Dorsett, Holmes, Tetek, Leavy, Camara, Sackey, Azeez, Puscas
Desperate times call for desperate measures. Unless the EFL can categorise these youngsters as senior players, thus making it impossible for Reading to make any signings this window, why would we play the vast majority of our key men?
Luke Southwood gets another go in goal after a shaky performance against Huddersfield Town on the final day of last season, with talented teenager Coniah Boyce-Clarke likely to be his understudy for tonight’s game. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the latter go out on loan at some point, with the option to recall if one of Rafael or Boyce-Clarke sustain an injury.
At left-back, Imari Samuels claims a valuable senior start with Ethan Bristow currently in the Royals’ first-team 11, with fellow youngsters Jeriel Dorsett and Michael Stickland at centre-back to gain more experience. If we’re sticking with five at the back, we may as well give these guys a chance to avoid risking injuries to the likes of Tom McIntyre, Liam Moore and Michael Morrison with a midweek league game coming up this time next week.
Tom Holmes will come in as the most experienced option in the backline - and may start at right-back after becoming accustomed to that position last season before reverting to his more natural position at centre-half.
Dejan Tetek also gets a start after making his breakthrough last season, lining up alongside 19-year-old Kian Leavy who may be our fourth choice option in central midfield behind Tetek, Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent. The latter two might be reliable, but we can’t risk an injury to either in a Carabao Cup game. It just isn’t worth it.
The inexperience continues on the wings with Mamadi Camara and Lynford Sackey getting their chance to impress. The former featured has featured sporadically for the Royals throughout the last 12 months and although we’ve seen even less of Sackey, he did make his debut against Luton Town in the same competition last year. This game might give him a second bite at the cherry.
Up top, we may be forced to play two considering the lack of depth we have in midfield. Ovie Ejaria’s possible return at some point may allow Femi Azeez to play for the second time in a number of days alongside George Puscas. Azeez was particularly impressive on Saturday and could be a valuable asset for us over the next year, so keep an eye on him.
Moving on to the score prediction. I reckon Pauno will put out a much stronger team than the one I’ve selected, but I still think it’ll be much weaker than our lineup on Saturday. With this and Swansea wanting to make an impression under their new boss Russell Martin, we could see a narrow loss at the Select Car Leasing Stadium tonight.
I’ll go with a 2-1 away win.
Score Prediction: Reading 1-2 Swansea City
Other Carabao Cup Fixtures On Tuesday (involving Championship teams)
Blackburn Rovers vs Morecambe
Derby County vs Salford City
Hull City vs Wigan Athletic
Mansfield Town vs Preston North End
Sheffield United vs Carlisle United
Stoke City vs Fleetwood Town
Bolton Wanderers vs Barnsley
Birmingham City vs Colchester United
Forest Green Rovers vs Bristol City
Millwall vs Portsmouth
Peterborough United vs Plymouth Argyle
Stevenage vs Luton Town