Reading return to action this evening as they host Sunderland, who will be hoping to recover following the loss of Alex Neil.
The visitors certainly have the ingredients to be competitive this season despite only winning promotion from League One in May, though a mid table finish is something many of their supporters will probably take as they look to avoid playing third-tier football again anytime soon.
Looking more at the present though, they will just be glad to see their team competing at a higher level and will be eager to see how far Tony Mowbray can take them following his successful spell at Blackburn Rovers.
Paul Ince’s Royals will be looking to spoil their party in Berkshire though - but who will come away with three points?
Ahead of kick-off, here’s your match preview.
What? Championship Matchday 9
Where? Select Car Leasing Stadium
When? Wednesday 14th September
Opposition Manager? Tony Mowbray
It’s good to be back, finally! It feels like we’ve been out of action for ages and following such a satisfying victory against Stoke City, we shouldn’t be short of confidence coming into this tie. This could end up being an important game for us, because keeping our unbeaten home record in the league will be a further morale-booster. Even a draw wouldn’t be the worst result, as long as we keep putting points on the board.
We've signed one of our recent trialists: Amadou Mbengue. It's good to see him come in as he's evidently good enough. The former Metz man could be a valuable contributor in central defence and midfield - and may end up earning a longer contract than his current short-term one, which runs until January.
The arrival on trial of Jordan Ibe is an interesting one - and we could certainly benefit from someone who can create problems in the final third. With Andy Carroll reportedly coming in though, the ex-Derby County player would be a more valuable asset to have in midfield. But it remains to be seen if he can adapt to a central role. Ince did previously say to the press that he wants to operate with a 4-2-3-1 at times though - and the 26-year-old could provide width.
Although the departure of former boss Neil was a blow, the absence of Ross Stewart could prove to be an even bigger one for them considering his goalscoring pedigree. The Scot has been exceptional since Charlie Wyke left the Stadium of Light - and will be sorely missed whilst he recovers from his setback.
One big positive for them though is the fact they enjoyed a reasonably productive summer window. Bringing in Daniel Ballard and Jack Clarke on permanent deals is an impressive bit of business and if they can pull off similar transfers in the next few windows, I can certainly see them pushing for the Premier League once more.
It just remains to be seen whether Mowbray can be the man to guide them to success.
Opposition Player I’d Like: Alex Pritchard
With Stewart out of action, I was tempted to go with Ellis Simms who has made a decent start to life at the Stadium of Light.
However, it’s hard to look past Prichard considering how well he can operate in the advanced midfield role when on top form.
This is arguably an area we should be looking to address to provide us with more firepower from midfield - and the quality of Pritchard’s deliveries make him a real game-changer at times.
It previously looked as though his career would fizzle out despite a successful spell at Brentford several years ago - but you would back him to be a key figure for his side again this term.
The Last Meeting
Reading 2-2 Sunderland
Starting XI: Lumley, Hoilett, McIntyre, Hutchinson, Holmes, Yiadom, Fornah, Hendrick, Ince, Joao, Long
Considering the fact we’re closing in on the international break, it would be wise not to risk injured players and this is why keeping the same lineup from the Stoke City clash may not be the worst idea.
Between the sticks, Joe Lumley keeps his spot having responded excellently to his disasterclass at Rotherham United last month - and his courage should be commended. Dean Bouzanis will be looking to keep the Middlesbrough man on his toes though.
Baba Rahman has had a disrupted pre-season at Chelsea with the Ghanaian being forced to train away from the Blues’ first-team squad, so keeping Junior Hoilett in the first 11 makes sense and the Canadian hasn’t done anything wrong to be fair to him. Giving him a new deal in the summer is proving to be a shrewd decision. On the other side, captain Andy Yiadom gets the nod again.
In the middle, Tom McIntyre, Sam Hutchinson and Tom Holmes operate as the back three once more - and you just hope Hutchinson can keep himself fit for as long as possible with Scott Dann and Liam Moore on the sidelines. Having the former Sheffield Wednesday man out of action could leave the Royals with a real shortage of options at the heart of their defence, so they will be counting on him to remain injury free.
Jeff Hendrick seems to be improving his game following a mixed start to life at the SCL Stadium - and just from his posts on Twitter - it seems as though he’s becoming more comfortable with life in Berkshire. The Irishman can be a real asset in the final third on his day along with Tyrese Fornah - but they will also need to be careful not to be cut open with Tom Ince in front of them as another attack-minded midfielder.
Up top, Shane Long starts if he’s fully fit and following his heroics against the Potters, it would be a major surprise if Lucas Joao wasn’t alongside the experienced forward. Having two up front should give the Black Cats’ defence something to think about - and with the hosts having the home advantage - they should be looking to be on the front foot for the majority of tonight’s match.
Score prediction time. I expect this game to be a close one but we seem to be decent at home and I’m going to go with a narrow 1-0 victory for the Royals - the same scoreline Mowbray suffered when he brought his Blackburn side to Berkshire during the latter stages of last term.
Score Prediction: Reading 1-0 Sunderland
Here are my predictions for tonight’s fixtures in the division:
Luton Town 2-0 Coventry City
Millwall 1-2 QPR
Norwich City 3-1 Bristol City
Rotherham United 1-0 Blackpool
West Brom 1-0 Birmingham City