Reading face one of their toughest tests of the season this afternoon as they take on a recently relegated Burnley side, who are hot favourites to win all three points.
Coming from behind to claim an excellent 4-2 victory at Sunderland last weekend and securing a 1-0 victory over Norwich City in midweek, the Clarets will be full of confidence coming into this tie and have the squad depth to cope with their busy schedule.
Reading, on the other hand, still have quite a few players out injured and will be hoping to get to the World Cup without suffering further injuries. That’s easier said than done though, especially with many of the same players needing to step up to the plate every game.
Can they get anything from this tie though? We’ll have to wait and see.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this clash.
What? Championship Matchday 17
Where? Turf Moor
When? Saturday 29th October
Opposition Manager? Vincent Kompany
I have to admit I thought the Clarets would be in the bottom half of the division right now for two big reasons. Firstly, it would have been forgivable if they had taken quite a bit of time to get over the dismissal of Sean Dyche who had spent so long at the club. As well as this, they undertook a rebuild in the summer, with the likes of Nick Pope, Nathan Collins, Dwight McNeil and Maxwel Cornet all leaving the club.
Losing just one or two key players would have been difficult enough - but losing several made Kompany’s task even harder. At the same time, it allowed him to bring in quite a few additions and with that, enabled him to put his stamp on the first-team squad.
Still, he should be given a lot of credit for his work both on the pitch and in the transfer market - and should have a decent amount to spend in January considering how much they raised from player sales in the summer. That ability to spend in the winter could make all the difference in the promotion race.
Amadou Mbengue has to be given a lot of credit for his performance last weekend - but he faces a more difficult task today and it will be interesting to see how he manages to cope.
Today could be used to judge whether he’s ready to be a viable option in central defence - because if he performs well once again and manages to keep the hosts at bay - many people will be starting to think he’s the real deal.
In terms of the whole team, it’s just about giving it our best shot today. If we can come away with anything, that will be a real positive.
Opposition Player I’d Like: Josh Brownhill
The midfielder arguably deserves to be in the Premier League, developing extremely well since moving on from Bristol City.
He was one star man that did stay put at Turf Moor during the summer and you just feel he will be identified as a crucial figure if his side do manage to get back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
Recording five goals and four assists in 17 league appearances already this season, the 26-year-old would be a real threat in an advanced midfield role for the Royals, challenging the likes of Tom Ince and Ovie Ejaria for a starting spot.
The advanced midfield position is one that could benefit from being strengthened - and Brownhill’s arrival would give us the chance to play a 3-4-2-1 formation and have an alternative like Ince or Ejaria on the bench.
The Last Meeting
Reading 0-0 Burnley
Starting XI: Lumley, Rahman, McIntyre, Holmes, Mbengue, Yiadom, Loum, Hendrick, Ince, Meite, Long
Joe Lumley takes his place in goal again following a quiet display against Bristol City. He didn’t really have anything to do, so there wasn’t really a chance for him to make an error or a worldie save.
One player that did put in a real shift though was Mbengue and he earns the chance to impress again with Sam Hutchinson remaining out of action at this stage. Tom McIntyre and Tom Holmes also retain their places in central defence, with Andy Yiadom coming back in at right wing-back to give Junior Hoilett a rest.
On the left, Baba Rahman starts once more but he will need to be much better in Lancashire today than he was last weekend. He starts ahead of Nesta Guinness-Walker though as a player who has had more experience at a higher level.
In the middle of the park, it would be easy to take out Jeff Hendrick but he was outstanding last time out and should retain his place because of that as he comes up against his former side. Mamadou Loum keeps his starting spot alongside the Irishman - and will be hoping to get himself on the scoresheet once more.
Ince is another certain starter, providing the visitors with energy and urgency in the final third. It remains to be seen how effective he can be against such a top-quality outfit like the Clarets though.
Up front, I’d be tempted to give Shane Long a start along with Yakou Meite, who has been reasonably decent in recent games. Long’s importance was reinforced last Saturday with his assist - and if the former Republic of Ireland international is 100% fit - he should definitely be under consideration for a starting spot.
Unfortunately, we probably won’t get anything from this game but stranger things have happened and we’ve got to be hopeful, right? My prediction isn’t hopeful - but let’s hope we can exceed expectations.
Score Prediction: Burnley 3-0 Reading
You know the drill - it’s time for some more score predictions:
Bristol City 1-2 Swansea City
West Bromwich Albion 1-0 Sheffield United
Cardiff City 1-2 Rotherham United
Coventry City 1-1 Blackpool
Huddersfield Town 0-2 Millwall
Hull City 1-2 Blackburn Rovers
Luton Town 2-1 Sunderland
Norwich City 2-2 Stoke City
Preston North End 2-1 Middlesbrough
Wigan Athletic 0-3 Watford