After losing four of their opening five league games this season, Reading will be hoping to drag themselves away from the relegation zone in the next set of games and see their new signings thrive at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
Although the likes of Tom Dele-Bashiru, Junior Hoilett and Alen Halilovic have all made their debuts for the Royals after arriving in the summer, the three latest signings in Baba Rahman, Danny Drinkwater and Scott Dann are yet to pull on the blue and white hoops.
Rahman may have been on international duty with Ghana along with fellow Reading full-back Andy Yiadom, but they will be available for selection tomorrow afternoon and all three potential debutants could make their first appearances tomorrow against a high-flying Queens Park Rangers side that have gone unbeaten in all seven of their competitive games so far this season.
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The Berkshire side’s current situation couldn’t be any different – and manager Veljko Paunovic will now be fighting for his job in the six games until the next international break – starting tomorrow afternoon (3pm) against Mark Warburton’s men.
Ahead of this tie, we have selected our predicted Reading starting lineup for this weekend’s Championship clash.
In goal, Rafael Cabral starts over Luke Southwood, although those who were heavily critical of him last season for his errors will be keeping a close eye on his performances with solidity at the back desperately needed in these difficult times.
Ideally, you would want to give Baba Rahman and Andy Yiadom a game off after going off on international duty with Ghana. But with a limited number of options behind them both in the pecking order, the Royals will have little choice but to start both this weekend if they want to give themselves the best chance of winning.
A shake-up in the centre may also be needed to improve their defensive record.
Many people would say Liam Moore deserves to be dropped after an underwhelming start to the season, but someone with a little bit of pace is needed in there to ensure the Royals don’t sit too deep against a side who already have enough attacking threat without the opposition helping them.
Tom Holmes and Michael Morrison are unlikely to provide that pace, so Moore retains his place for now.
The midfield duo of Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent also need to take some responsibility for their side’s defensive record so far this season, and although both have been underwhelming so far this season, it’s the former who makes way for Danny Drinkwater who could be a real asset this season if he’s in the mood to perform.
Something different is needed in the middle of the park and this healthy competition between the likes of the trio and Tom Dele-Bashiru could help the Royals to increase their performance levels. Winning the midfield battle will be key if they want to come out victorious from games, can Drinkwater with his top-flight experience help them to do this?
On the left-hand side, Ovie Ejaria comes back in, although it would be good to see him show a bit more consistency this term and will also need to be wary of slowing down the tempo of Reading’s attacking moves.
Ejaria tends to slow the game down at times, but with a chance of making a fresh start and a point to prove to Veljko Paunovic with the likes of Junior Hoilett and Alen Halilovic coming in as competition out wide, he could be a game-changer for the Berkshire outfit.
Haliovic starts on the other side instead of Hoilett in Yakou Meite’s absence, although it would be good to see the Canadian international come on at some point to give Paunovic’s side something different down the wings. Hoilett used to play for QPR as well, so he will be especially keen to make an impact against Mark Warburton’s men.
John Swift also starts in a more advanced role in the centre with George Puscas up top. It might be madness to persevere with the 25-year-old up top, but he has shown on the odd occasion that he can play on his own.
More than anything else, he needs a bit of confidence and a goal. If he can get one, this could set the tone for a more successful season for the Romanian.