Serbian youth international Dejan Tetek makes an unexpected start for the Royals against Middlesbrough this afternoon, as the 19-year-old and Danny Drinkwater come in for injured centre-back pairing Tom Holmes and Michael Morrison.
Both sustained injuries away at Craven Cottage last weekend and were both expected to be missing for his match, although one omission that is a surprise is George Puscas who fails to reclaim his place in the starting lineup despite being the only senior striker available to Veljko Paunovic.
Scott Dann is out of the squad altogether after failing to gain enough fitness to make the bench, despite the centre-back crisis the Royals face, with Michael Stickland available as a more natural option in central defence despite only being 17. Andy Yiadom is likely to start in the centre in their place.
Quiz: Have Reading FC ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?
Reading come into this game having won seven points from a possible nine in their three league fixtures since the international break against high-flyers Queens Park Rangers and Fulham and relegation-threatened Peterborough United.
These points could prove to be crucial at the end of the campaign for a side that face a points deduction from the EFL after breaching profit and sustainability rules.
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Whether this has had any mental impact on the Royals remains to be seen, but they face a side they have taken just one point from a possible 27 from in their past nine meetings, a record they will be desperate to improve today despite injuries throughout the playing squad.
With the team news being released for this early kick-off, we take a look at how a selection of Reading fans have reacted to the lineup.
I get not wanting to change things from last week, but at home against a side we could get a result from, Puscas should really be starting. But as always I hope I eat my words! #readingfc https://t.co/E1PlTJ2zoV
— Alex Lane-Kieltyka (@alex_elkay21) September 25, 2021
— Max Howard (@MaxHoward_15) September 25, 2021
Tetek and Laurent masterclass https://t.co/6Tv54Wtfzt
— SB (@SBeaverss) September 25, 2021
Mad mad lineup, why not start Stickland we need a centre back https://t.co/wNk8k7q0G0
— Todd-ED (@TED247) September 25, 2021
— Trenchy (@AdamHumphries96) September 25, 2021
8 midfielders. Unreal club 😂😂😂 https://t.co/gmWUoqNluO
— Micah (@1871M1C4H) September 25, 2021
No start for Stickland is mighty disappointing https://t.co/JB9drmoS4C
— Alex Everson (@Readingfanman) September 25, 2021
It’s genuinely a mystery who’s playing where here https://t.co/K1n3tAvNoS
— Adam (@AdamTucker_) September 25, 2021
No positions, just vibes https://t.co/AfW23OWJc8
— Reece 🏴 (@Reece_RFC) September 25, 2021
— Luke (@gibbsey517) September 25, 2021