Reading - Sheffield United Preview: Blades seeking fourth-straight win at Madejski Stadium
Brian McDermott’s side go into the game full of confidence having won three matches in a row, and face League One opponents who are beset by a number of injuries
By Arthur Virgo
Kelly, Pearce, Morrison, Harte
Kebe, Tabb, Karacan, McCleary
Hunt, Le Fondre
McMahon, Maguire, Higginbotham, Williams
Murphy, Doyle, McDonald, Flynn
Reading have no new injury problems but goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (shoulder) is still out injured, while striker Jason Roberts (hip) and winger Hal Robson-Kanu (knee) remain sidelined.
Much of the Royals’ energy is devoted to the battle to stay in the Premier League, meaning Brian McDermott is expected to rotate his squad heavily for this fourth-round tie.
Sheffield United have suffered a series of injuries in defence, with regular goalkeeper Mark Howard (thigh) and defenders Neill Collins (fractured cheekbone), Matt Hill (fractured jaw), and Jean-Francois Lecsinel (knee) all unavailable.
Further up the pitch the Blades are without striker Shaun Miller (knee) but otherwise have few concerns and so, with Tuesday's match against Bury already cancelled, are likely to field a strong side.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Reading have won four of their last five matches in all competitions.
- The Royals have also scored eight goals in their last three games, collecting three consecutive victories despite conceding the first goal in each.
- Brian McDermott’s side began a similarly effective run this time last year, winning 15 of their last 19 league matches to seal top spot in the Championship.
- Sheffield United are currently fifth in League One but are beset by poor form, having only beat lowly Oxford United in their last five games.
- The Blades reached both the FA Cup and League Cup semi-finals in 2003, but were beaten by Arsenal and Liverpool respectively.
- Sheffield United’s 23-year-old forward Nick Blackman (pictured right) is the club’s top scorer this season, having netted 14 goals in all competitions.
- Sheffield United have won their last 3 away matches against Reading in all competitions.
- Blades striker Dave Kitson played for Reading for five seasons between 2003 and 2008, helping the Royals to promotion to the Premier League.
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Top 3 Predictions
Reading 2-0 Sheffield United
- 16.98 %
Reading 2-1 Sheffield United
- 15.09 %
Reading 3-1 Sheffield United
- 15.09 %
|FA Cup (FA)||26 Jan 2013||Reading 4 - Sheffield United 0|
|14 Dec 2013||Huddersfield Town 0 - Reading 1||ENG2|
|7 Dec 2013||Reading 1 - Bournemouth 2||ENG2|
|3 Dec 2013||Reading 1 - Charlton Athletic 0||ENG2|
|29 Nov 2013||Nottingham Forest 2 - Reading 3||ENG2|
|23 Nov 2013||Blackburn Rovers 0 - Reading 0||ENG2|
|9||Adam Le Fondre||Striker|
|-||Diego De Girolamo||Striker|
|Adam Le Fondre|
Having been used from the bench of late, the forward could well use this tie as an opportunity to prove himself worthy of a starting role.
The target-man will use his aerial ability to complement the pacey Nick Blackman, while his height will help the Blades defend against set pieces - one of Reading's strengths.
The Premier League side’s quality is therefore likely to prove too much for the League One side, who are caught in a poor run of form and have suffered a string of injuries.