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Opposition Lowdown: Matt Bloomfield’s Wycombe Wanderers

Reading return from the international break with a trip down the M4 to take on Wycombe Wanderers. Join us as we take a closer look at the opposition. 

Wycombe Wanderers v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Form

Wycombe Wanderers finished last season in ninth place in League One following 20 wins, nine draws and 17 losses. Their home form was slightly superior to their away form, with Wanderers picking up 38 of their points at Adams Park.

This is their third straight season in the third tier, having been relegated from the Championship in the 2020/21 season after finishing 22nd in the league. Wycombe are currently mid-table in the league, sitting in 12th place following six wins, four draws and six losses. They are currently looking for their first league win in six games, having seen their last victory in early October.

The two sides last faced each other in the 2020/21 Covid-hit season, when Reading beat Wanderers 1-0 at the Madejski after a penalty from Lucas Joao sent the Royals to the top of the Championship. Wycombe returned the favour, winning 1-0 at Adams Park after a goal from Fred Onyedinma.

The boss

Matt Bloomfield: Bloomfield was appointed Wycombe manager in February this year, after long-serving manager Gareth Ainsworth joined Queens Park Rangers. He was a familiar face to Wanderers, having had a 19-year playing career for the club.

He played two matches for Ipswich Town where he started his career but went on to make over 500 appearances for Wycombe, while also serving as captain for 12 consecutive seasons. Bloomfield took on a coaching role whilst in his final few years as a player at Wycombe and retired from playing in February 2022.

His first managerial role came at Colchester United in September 2022 where he won 33% of his games in charge. He has gone on to manage Wycombe in 37 games since his move in February and currently has a win percentage of 41%.

Bloomfield was a swashbuckling midfielder and strong leader who wants his sides to remain organised and intelligent.

Squad

A total of 12 players came through the door at Adams Park this summer, including the free-transfer signings of goalkeeper Laurence Shala, centre-back Richard Keogh, right-back Kane Vincent-Young and winger Kieran Sadlier.

They also completed permanent deals for Bristol City centre-back Joe Low, Shrewsbury Town midfielder Luke Leahy and midfielder Taylor Clark, who signed from Needham Market. Five players also came in on loan, with left-back Harry Boyes (Sheffield United), midfielders Freddie Potts (West Ham United), Kian Breckin (Manchester City) and Killian Phillips (Crystal Palace) and forward Dale Taylor (Nottingham Forest). They have also just signed striker Lyle Taylor on a short-term deal until January.

Eight players left Wycombe this summer including Lewis Wing, who joined Reading, former Royal Jordan Obita, who signed for Hibernian, and midfielder Nick Freeman who signed for Stevenage.

Freddie Potts, Sam Vokes, Jason McCarthy, Declan Skura and Kane Vincent-Young are all expected to miss out on this game through injury.

Expected lineup

Stryjek, Forino, Keogh, Tafazolli, Wheeler, Leahy, Scowen, Phillips, McCleary, Sadlier, Taylor

Key player

Luke Leahy: Leahy joining Wycombe this summer, signing a three-year deal with the club following the expiry of his contract at Shrewsbury Town.

He started his career at Rugby Town and then signed for Falkirk in 2012. He made 160 appearances for the club before joining Walsall in 2017 where he spent two seasons, notching up another 105 appearances before moving to Bristol Rovers. Leahy joined Shrewsbury in 2021 where he scored 21 goals for the club over two seasons.

The 31-year-old has proved a popular figure at Adams Park so far this season and already six goals to his name. Leahy can play in both defence and midfield but has mainly been used as a left-back throughout his career. He is a good passer of the ball and is a strong set piece taker.

One to watch

Chris Forino: Defender Forino signed for Wycombe in April 2021, following a successful trial. He spent time with Brentford, Cheshunt and Colchester United as a youth-team player, before signing for non league Wingate & Finchley.

He then played for Loughborough University, combining studying with playing, but made the decision to focus on a playing career when Wycombe offered him a trial. He went on to sign a permanent deal and made his debut for the Chairboys in November 2021.

The 23-year-old has gone on to make 67 appearances for the club, scoring seven goals. Standing at 6ft 3in tall, Joseph is a towering centre-back who is an aerial threat in both boxes.