MX23RW : Tuesday, September 28 05:02:06| >> :120:18930:18930:
Jul 10, 2021 at 1pm UK at Madejski Stadium
LincolnLincoln City
Camara (71')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Preview: Reading vs. Lincoln City - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Pre-Season Friendlies clash between Reading and Lincoln City, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Reading and Lincoln City will both be aiming to build on progress over the last year as they begin their 2021-22 pre-season campaign.

The two clubs meet in a behind-closed-doors friendly at the Royals' Bearwood Park training ground on Saturday.

Match preview

Reading's Michael Olise celebrates with his teamates after he scores their first goal against Derby County in the Championship on April 5, 2021© Reuters

Reading led the Championship table after 11 games last season and spent almost all of the campaign inside the top six before a poor run of form in the final two months meant they missed out on the playoffs by seven points and ended seventh.

Nonetheless, after finishing 14th the year before, there were certainly huge signs of improvement under Veljko Paunovic, who had been appointed just a week before the start of the campaign.

The Serbian will now be tasked with pushing further up the table, as the club's demanding Chinese owners seek promotion to the Premier League.

However, that that will not be easy considering the limited funds available to him due to Financial Fair Play rules and Reading are yet to dip into the transfer market this summer.

The Royals will also face Aberdeen, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic in pre-season before their Championship schedule begins with a visit to Stoke City on August 7.

Lincoln City's manager Michael Appleton and Regan Poole celebrate after the match against Sunderland in the League One playoffs on May 22, 2021© Reuters

For Lincoln, a trip to Berkshire will be a reminder of what could have been, as the Imps came agonisingly close to promotion to the Championship last season.

After finishing fifth in the League One table, they beat Sunderland over two legs in the playoff semi-final before losing 2-1 to Blackpool in the final, despite taking the lead within 50 seconds at Wembley.

As with Reading though, objectively it was an excellent campaign for Lincoln, with Michael Appleton surprising many with the success he brought to Sincil Bank.

However, like their opponents on Saturday, things may be trickier in 2021-22; the Imps have already lost last year's top scorer Jorge Grant to Peterborough, while star loanees Brennan Johnson and Morgan Rogers have returned to their parent clubs.

This is the second time in three years that Reading and Lincoln have faced off in pre-season after doing battle in the sunnier surroundings of Marbella in 2019; they have not met in a competitive setting since 1999.

Team News

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Following Michael Olise's departure to Crystal Palace on Thursday, Reading have just 16 first-team players on their books so expect plenty of youngsters to feature during pre-season.

There is no senior left-back at the club after Omar Richards joined Bayern Munich, giving Ethan Bristow a chance to make a name for himself.

Captain Liam Moore is away with Jamaica at the Gold Cup, while Yakou Meite has been ruled out for most of the season after rupturing his ACL.

Saturday will be Appleton's first chance to try out new recruits Chris Maguire and Lewis Fiorini, signed from Sunderland and Manchester City respectively, the latter on loan.

Fiorini will be tasked with filling the hole left by Jorge Grant in midfield and Maguire given the job of replacing Morgan Rogers's threat on the right wing.

Adam Jackson is back from the calf injury that ruled him out of the playoff final, while 18-year-old Sam Long is the only first team goalkeeper currently at the club so he will start between the sticks.

Reading possible starting lineup:
Rafael; Yiadom, Morrison, McIntyre, Bristow; Laurent, Tetek; Camara, Swift, Ejaria; Puscas

Lincoln City possible starting lineup:
Long; Poole, Jackson, Walsh, Edun; Bridcutt, McGrandles, Fiorini; Maguire, Hopper, Scully

SM words green background

We say: Reading 1-1 Lincoln City

This will be a battle between two teams finding their feet without some of their star names from last season. We believe they are well-matched so think it will end level, particularly as both sides may settle for a draw as it is a friendly.

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Reading manager Veljko Paunovic pictured in December 2020
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