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Preview: Reading vs. Middlesbrough - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Reading and Middlesbrough, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Reading will be looking to cement their spot in the Championship playoff places when they host Middlesbrough on Saturday.

The Royals - absent from the top flight of English football since the 2012-13 campaign - are currently in fifth position, eight points ahead of Boro, who are chasing down the top six in eighth spot.


Match preview

Reading's Lucas Joao celebrates scoring against Bristol City in the Championship on February 16, 2021© Reuters

Reading got their first win in four games on Tuesday evening as goals just before half time from Lucas Joao and Michael Morrison secured a 2-0 victory over Bristol City.

While the Berkshire side still have slim hopes of automatic promotion as they are currently six points behind the top two, a win over Middlesbrough would put them in an incredibly strong position to qualify for the playoffs – particularly with games against struggling Wycombe Wanderers and Rotherham United coming up.

The Royals have been beaten in their last two home games against Brentford and Millwall but have not lost three successive fixtures at the Madejski Stadium since October 2019, while they are the only side in the Championship yet to draw a home match this season.

Only Brentford (56) have scored more times in the division this season than Reading (44), but Veljko Paunovic's team have conceded the second-most goals in the top half (34).

Duncan Watmore celebrates scoring for Middlesbrough against Huddersfield Town in the Championship on February 16, 2021© Reuters

Middlesbrough could have been a lot closer to Reading in the table had it not been for their recent poor run of form, with their 2-1 win against Huddersfield Town on Tuesday being their first victory in six matches.

Neil Warnock's side had to come from behind against the Terriers as Duncan Watmore and Ashley Fletcher got on the scoresheet, but Paddy McNair was sent off late on.

Warnock will hope that the result gets Boro's playoff bid back on track, but they are still six points behind the top six with a key game to come against seventh-placed Cardiff City next weekend.

Middlesbrough have won just four of their 15 away games this season, and all of those victories have come against sides in the current bottom half.

The 0-0 draw between Boro and Reading earlier this season halted a run of seven successive defeats for the Royals against the Teeside outfit.

Reading Championship form: DWDLLW

Middlesbrough Championship form: LLDLLW


Team News

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Josh Laurent is expected to go back into Reading's starting lineup after he was rested against Bristol City, with Paunovic admitting that the midfielder had "got a couple of knocks".

Royals captain Liam Moore is fit again and was named on the bench on Tuesday night, but he will not be able to walk straight back into the side as Tom McIntyre has performed well at centre-back in his absence.

Warnock went with a back three against Huddersfield for the first time since December, and he could retain the same system on Saturday.

McNair's red card on Wednesday has been overturned so he is available for selection at the Madejski Stadium.

Fellow centre-back Dael Fry is in contention to return after missing the last three games with injury, while Yannick Bolasie and Marcus Tavernier are edging closer to being back fit.

Reading possible starting lineup:
Rafael; Yiadom, Morrison, McIntyre, Richards; Laurent, Semedo; Olise, Rinomhota, Ejaria; Joao

Middlesbrough possible starting lineup:
Bettinelli; Dijksteel, Fry, McNair; Fisher, Morsy, Howson, Bola; Kebano; Watmore, Fletcher


SM words green background

We say: Reading 2-1 Middlesbrough

This is a key game for both teams' hopes for the rest of the season so it could be a tight and cagey affair in Berkshire. Wins on Tuesday will give the two sides confidence after recent dips in form, but we think it will be Reading that manage to snatch the three points.


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


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Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock pictured in February 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CNorwich CityNorwich462910775363997
4Swansea CitySwansea4623111256391780
5Barnsley46239145850878
6Bournemouth4622111373462777
7Reading461913146254870
8Cardiff CityCardiff4618141466491768
9Queens Park RangersQPR461911165755268
10Middlesbrough461810185553264
11Millwall461517144752-562
12Luton TownLuton461711184152-1162
13Preston North EndPreston46187214956-761
14Stoke CityStoke461515165052-260
15Blackburn RoversBlackburn4615121965541157
16Coventry CityCoventry461413194961-1255
17Nottingham ForestNott'm Forest461216183745-852
18Birmingham CityBirmingham461313203761-2452
19Bristol City46156254668-2251
20Huddersfield TownHuddersfield461213215071-2149
21Derby CountyDerby461111243658-2244
RWycombe WanderersWycombe461110253969-3043
RRotherham UnitedRotherham46119264460-1642
RSheffield WednesdaySheff Weds461211234061-2141

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