Brian McDermott’s Reading side have the opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the play-off places should they manage to overcome MK Dons at the stadium:mk this afternoon.
The Royals boss warned of a Dons backlash after their 5-0 pummelling at the hands of promotion hopefuls Burnley on Tuesday night.
Manager Karl Robinson will be hoping for a response from his side after a demoralising defeat, and one that leaves them just two points clear of the bottom three.
After taking over the reins from Steve Clarke after the defeat to Queens Park Rangers, McDermott has somewhat steadied the ship at the Madejski Stadium.
The Royals will be hoping to make it unbeaten in four games in all competitions at the stadium:mk, following a scrappy 1-0 win over Bristol City, a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup with Huddersfield Town, and a promising 1-1 draw with second placed Derby County.
With the stage set for an interesting match, FootballLeagueWorld writer Harry Smith identifies three things to look out for in this afternoon’s match…
1) Hal Robson-Kanu & Matej Vydra
The pair had both been suffering from a lack of confidence of late, but both scored in the 2-2 draw with Huddersfield, and put in another admirable performance against Derby in midweek.
It is looking likely that the pair will start again, and with McDermott stating in an interview that Orlando Sa will have to wait for his chance, it is looking like they will have a considerable time to establish themselves in the first team.
2) Karl Robinson’s motivation
After such a humiliating defeat, it will have been crucial for Robinson to have regrouped his side and instilled the confidence that they’ve been lacking in recent games.
The Dons will be hungry to avenge that defeat by hopefully claiming victory over a beatable Reading side.
Alternatively, if Robinson has failed to do this, they could suffer another dampening defeat, and one that leaves them even nearer to the drop zone.
3) Jake Cooper
In the wake of injuries to Anton Ferdinand and Paul McShane, and the suspension of Michael Hector, young centre back Jake Cooper has been given the duties of holding together the Royals defence.
With captain McShane still looking doubtful, he will most likely get another chance to stake a claim for a first team spot in this game.
Perform well, and he could well give McDermott a defensive selection headache when all defenders return to full fitness. Then again, there are worst headaches to have.
MK Dons and Reading fans… what do you think the score will be? Can the Dons get back to winning ways after a humiliating defeat in midweek? Or will Reading register a first away win since September? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!