Manchester United - Reading Preview: Royals hoping to progess past the FA Cup fifth round for only the third time ever
Standing in the way of Brian McDermott's side are Sir Alex Ferguson's Red Devils, and the hosts have only lost two of their last 19 home matches in this competition
By Ryan Benson
Rafael, Smalling, Vidic, Buttner
Nani, Anderson, Cleverley, Young
Kelly, Morrison, Mariappa, Harte Leigertwood
Kebe, Tabb, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu
Following Manchester United's battling 1-1 draw against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night, Sir Alex Ferguson will most likely introduce some fresh faces when Reading visit on Monday.
Darren Fletcher is the only player definitely ruled out due to his bowel illness, while Paul Scholes is still a few weeks away from a return after suffering a knee problem.
Should Sir Alex decide to rest players, the likes of Alexander Buttner, Nani, Anderson and Ashley Young could all start, and Nemanja Vidic should return following his rest on Wednesday night.
While United were giving their all in Madrid, Brian McDermott took his side to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp and he will have the majority of his squad available at Old Trafford.
Striker Jason Roberts (knee) remains a few weeks from a return to the Reading line-up meaning Pavel Pogrebnyak may retain his place in attack with Adam Le Fondre available from the bench.
Reading's only other definite absentee is goalkeeper Alex McCarthy (shoulder) and he looks set to miss another couple of months' worth of action.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Manchester United have emerged victorious in 15 of their last 19 FA Cup matches at Old Trafford, losing just two.
Seven goals were scored in the first 35 minutes when the two sides met at the Madejski Stadium earlier this season.
United have won the FA Cup on each previous occasion that they have defeated Fulham in the fourth round (1999 and 2004).
The Red Devils' last loss to Reading came in this competition back in 1927.
In his last seven Reading appearances, Le Fondre (pictured right) has seven goals.
The Royals have only ever been past the fifth round twice.
Their record against sides from the same division in the FA Cup is very poor having won one of 12 matches.
- Reading are 11/2 to knock Manchester United out of the FA Cup and qualify for the next round with bet365.
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Top 3 Predictions
Man Utd. 3-0 Reading
- 24.95 %
Man Utd. 3-1 Reading
- 12.85 %
Man Utd. 2-0 Reading
- 12.76 %
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Mar 16, 2013||Man Utd. 1 - Reading 0|
|England - FA Cup (FA)||Feb 18, 2013||Man Utd. 2 - Reading 1|
|England - Premier League (EPL)||Dec 1, 2012||Reading 3 - Man Utd. 4|
|Dec 10, 2013||Man Utd. 1 - Shakhtar Donetsk 0||UCL|
|Dec 7, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Newcastle 1||EPL|
|Dec 4, 2013||Man Utd. 0 - Everton 1||EPL|
|Dec 1, 2013||Tottenham 2 - Man Utd. 2||EPL|
|Nov 27, 2013||Bayer 04 Leverkusen 0 - Man Utd. 5||UCL|
|1||David de Gea||Goalkeeper|
|14||Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez||Striker|
|20||Robin van Persie||Striker|
|9||Adam Le Fondre||Striker|
The Portugal international has found it difficult to nail down a regular place in the United team this season, with injuries dogging him throughout.
However, when he has been given a chance he has rarely lived up to expectations and is expected by many to leave the club in the summer. If he wants to change that suspected destiny, he must begin to find form and soon.
United's record at Old Trafford needs no introduction and after scoring four goals against Fulham in the last round, if Reading are to stand even the slightest chance of producing an upset then their defence will have to be at their top of their game and that includes Mariappa.
The Jamaican's pace could be a valuable asset should Javier Hernandez start as expected, with the Mexican always looking for passes in behind the back line. He will also be looking to prevent United adding to an impressive number of 17 headed goals so far this season, too.
Even if United name a significantly weakened side on Monday, they should still have way too much for the visitors. Everything points to a home win, and any other result would be a huge shock given the firepower available to the Red Devils.