Reading will be looking for their first away win of the Championship season this afternoon as they take on Millwall, who have enjoyed a respectable start to the campaign.
The Royals, however, will be hoping to build on what has been a decent start to their own term with three home victories putting them in a decent position going into this tie.
However, things can change very quickly and Paul Ince will be aware of that, so a loss today would be a blow considering their form away from the Select Car Leasing Stadium hasn’t been great under the former England international.
A trip to The Den will be a tricky assignment for the visitors though - but a victory will help to keep the fanbase happy with many supporters already optimistic about this season after a decent couple of results. Can they bring three points back from the English capital though?
That’s currently unclear - but we do have everything you need to know ahead of kick-off.
What? Championship Matchday 6
Where? The Den
When? Saturday 27th August 2022
Opposition Manager? Gary Rowett
The Lions have endured a reasonably mixed start to this season - and that’s something manager Rowett will take after losing a key man in Jed Wallace this summer.
Considering the winger’s current side West Bromwich Albion finished below them last term, his departure must have hurt but the board have opened up their wallet and backed Rowett in his quest to bring in replacements.
And they have done reasonably well in the transfer market, managing to lure Benik Afobe back to the club, recruiting Andreas Voglsammer to add another goalscorer to their ranks and forking out fees for Zian Flemming and George Honeyman.
Loanees Charlie Cresswell and Jamie Shackleton could also turn out to be shrewd temporary additions, though they will be disappointed not to have re-signed Daniel Ballard after seeing him shine this season.
Usually known for a strong defence, they will be hoping Cresswell can adapt to Championship football quickly and fill the void created by the Sunderland man’s departure, with their defensive record proving to be key in guiding them to another top-half finish at the end of last season.
The mood within the (Twitter) fanbase is pretty decent at the moment and for good reason.
There wasn’t exactly a major transfer update from Ince on Thursday - but work will surely be going on behind the scenes to add at least a couple of further additions before the window closes. As I’ve said before, it would be great if we were able to bring in three more players on top of Naby Sarr - but a left wing-back simply has to be at the top of our priority list considering the lack of experience we have there.
A striker would also be nice - but the likes of Jahmari Clarke, Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan and Nahum Melvin-Lambert are also available as options and you’d think at least one of the trio will be mainly training with the first team or will go out on loan. Ehibhatiomhan seems to be the front runner to be our fourth choice option behind Shane Long, Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite, with Femi Azeez potentially suited to a different role.
In terms of an attack-minded midfielder in a 5-3-2 system, we already have Jeff Hendrick and Ovie Ejaria who can probably operate in this role and Mamadi Camara may also be a potential option if given the chance to take up a more attacking position. It’s difficult to say exactly what type of midfielder we need because we could switch formations throughout the season - but someone who can provide attacking firepower from the middle of the park would be lovely. Basically a John Swift.
In terms of what’s happening on the pitch, we did extremely well to win three points last weekend. Middlesbrough are likely to be in and around the promotion mix this season and although we played them at a good time, that will be one of our more difficult fixtures of the season.
Opposition Player I’d Like: George Honeyman
In our current situation, having an advanced midfielder like Honeyman could help to unlock defences and strengthen a position that quite clearly needs looking at.
It does seem as though our interest in Omari Hutchinson is live and that’s a promising sign - but you feel our inability to be able to offer him a starting spot each week will be a major hurdle in our potential quest to get a deal over the line.
This could be the case for most potential loanees in this area, so we may need to look for a free agent if we are to add another option in this department.
There won’t exactly be a wealth of options though if we look at this market again and this is why someone like Honeyman would have been useful. He may have only contributed five goals and four assists to Hull City’s cause last term - but that’s still a respectable total and as a backup option for Jeff Hendrick - we could do a lot worse.
Unfortunately, there’s no chance of getting a deal done but it’s always nice to see how opposition players could fit into our team.
The Last Meeting
Reading 0-1 Millwall
Starting XI: Bouzanis, Hoilett, McIntyre, Hutchinson, Holmes, Yiadom, Fornah, Loum, Hendrick, Ince, Long
It’s a difficult one because it would be easy to put Joe Lumley back in - but Dean Bouzanis did enough to retain his starting spot and may be less error-prone than the Royals’ current number one. With a hostile crowd too, the Australian may cope better.
The back five also remains the same, although it will be interesting to see whether Nesta Guinness-Walker is set to return or not. He may even struggle to get into the starting lineup considering how the defence performed last weekend though - and Ince may be reluctant to throw him straight in despite doing similar with Sam Hutchinson against Boro.
Naby Sarr is a potential candidate to come in and it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him start considering he has trained with the first-team squad for the past month - but it would be harsh on any of Tom McIntyre, Tom Holmes and Hutchinson if one of the trio were to be dropped.
The midfield and the attack also remains the same with no midweek game. However, it would be good to see Lucas Joao at some point as well as some of those previously out of action back in the matchday squad.
Dejan Tetek played yesterday and seems to be on his way back to full fitness, so there’s every chance he could be involved in the next couple of weeks.
In terms of my score prediction, I’m being optimistic but The Den is a hard place to visit, so it would be extremely impressive if we were able to win all three points this afternoon.
Score Prediction: Millwall 1-2 Reading
Here are my predictions for this round of second-tier fixtures (all today):
Sunderland 1-3 Norwich City
Blackburn Rovers 2-2 Stoke City
Blackpool 1-0 Bristol City
Cardiff City 0-1 Preston North End
Huddersfield Town 1-2 West Brom
Hull City 2-1 Coventry City
Middlesbrough 2-0 Swansea City
Rotherham United 1-2 Birmingham City
Watford 1-0 Queens Park Rangers
Wigan Athletic 1-3 Burnley