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Opposition Lowdown: Russell Martin’s Swansea City

Reading travel to South Wales to face Swansea this Tuesday, looking to bounce back after two straight defeats. Steven examines the opposition.

Reading v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images


Swansea finished in 15th place in the Championship last season, their lowest finish in the league since their relegation from the Premier League in 2017/18. They came fourth the previous season, but lost 2-0 to Brentford in the play-off final.

The Swans have had a relatively strong start to their league campaign this season, currently sitting in eighth place following six wins, three draws and five losses. However, they will be looking to bounce back from the 4-0 away loss inflicted by top-of-the table Burnley in their last league game.

Reading beat the Swans 3-2 in South Wales in November last year, before the two sides played out a thrilling 4-4 draw at the SCL in April, with Tom McIntyre scoring the equaliser in the 95th minute after the Royals came back from 4-1 down.

The boss

Russell Martin: Martin became Swansea manager in August 2021, taking over from Steve Cooper, who left the club by mutual consent following Swansea’s play-off final loss to Brentford. Martin joined from League One side MK Dons, having managed them since 2019, in his first job as a manager.

The former defender spent the majority of his career at Norwich City, making over 300 appearances for the Canaries, while also captaining the side. Martin ended his playing career at MK Dons and took over as manager in November 2019 after Paul Tisdale left the club by mutual consent. He guided the club to 19th- and 13th-placed League One finishes in his first two seasons before joining Swansea in time for last season, finishing 15th.

Martin likes his sides to play an attractive, possession-based style of football.

Reading v Swansea City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images


Swansea only saw one major outgoing this summer with midfielder Flynn Downes joining Premier League West Ham United for a reported £12m fee. Midfielders Korey Smith and Yan Dhanda, defender Ryan Bennett and goalkeeper Ben Hamer all left the club this summer following the conclusion of their contracts.

Centre-back Harry Darling joined the Swans from Russell Martin’s former side MK Dons, while Wales international Joe Allen re-signed for the club following his release from Stoke City. Defender Nathan Wood also joined from Middlesbrough for an undisclosed fee.

Swansea have also bought in four players on loan, with defenders Fin Stevens and Matthew Sorinola joining from Brentford and Union SG, midfielder Luke Cundle signing from Wolves and winger Armstrong Oko-Flex joining from West Ham.

Striker Joel Piroe will miss this Tuesday’s clash as he starts his three-game suspension following a straight red card in Swansea’s last game with Burnley. Midfielders Joe Allen and Jamie Paterson will both miss out through injury, while Ryan Manning will face a late fitness test to determine whether he will be available.

Expected line-up

Benda, Wood, Cabango, Naughton, Latibeaudiere, Manning, Grimes, Fulton, Ntcham, Cullen, Obafemi

Key player

Ryan Manning: Manning will be hoping to be fit enough to start Tuesday night’s game after missing Swansea’s last match through injury. The Irish wing-back has been a standout performer for the Swans this season and already has two goals and two assists to his name.

Manning joined Swansea from QPR in October 2020, having spent five years in West London. Manning started his career at Irish side Mervue United before making the move across Ireland to Galway United. It was Harry Redknapp who signed Manning for QPR in January 2015, but he didn’t make his debut for the club until the end of 2016. He went on to make 96 appearances for the club before signing for Swansea for an undisclosed fee.

Manning is a full Republic of Ireland international, having made his debut in 2020. The 26-year-old started his career as a midfielder but typically plays at left-wing-back and is effective at playing simple passes.

One to watch

Michael Obafemi: Striker Obafemi signed for Swansea in August 2021, joining from Premier League Southampton. He started his career with Watford but took some time away from the game following his release from the club at the age of 13. He made a return to football by joining Leyton Orient in 2015, before making the move to Southampton in 2016.

Obafemi made his Saints debut in 2018 and went on to make 39 appearances for the club, scoring five goals. The 22-year-old scored 11 goals for the Swans in his first season at the club and has two to his name so far this season.

He is also a Republic of Ireland international, making his debut for his country in 2018. Obafemi is a pacey striker who is also a calm finisher of the ball.