MX23RW : Monday, June 21 20:14:37| >> :600:1314149:1314149:
Jun 20, 2020 at 3pm UK at Madejski Stadium
ReadingReading
1-1
StokeStoke City
Joao (7')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Powell (90+1')
McClean (62'), Clucas (89')

Preview: Reading vs. Stoke City - predictions, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Championship clash between Reading and Stoke City, including team news and predicted lineups.

Reading will resume their Championship campaign on Saturday when they play host to Stoke City at the Madejski Stadium.

The two sides are separated by six points in the table, with Reading sitting 14th, while Stoke lie three places below in 17th as things stand.


Match preview

Reading manager Mark Bowen celebrates after the match in December 2019© Reuters

After a hiatus of more than three months while the sporting landscape drastically adjusts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the second tier of English football will finally return to action with a full set of fixtures this weekend.

Reading will be looking for their third league win on the bounce when they welcome Stoke to Berkshire, with Mark Bowen's side picking up victories over Barnsley and Birmingham City before the enforced shutdown.

The Royals have accrued 48 points from 37 matches thus far, which is more than they managed in their two most recent Championship campaigns.

Bowen's men currently lie eight points adrift of the playoff places and nine clear of the relegation zone, and a mid-table finish would be a considerable improvement on their 20th-placed standing for the 2018-19 season.

Realistically, Reading have little to play for over the next two months - with an FA Cup last-16 defeat to Sheffield United preceding their win at Birmingham before play was brought to a halt.

The Royals will be playing in an empty Madejski for the remainder of the campaign, which could be a cause for concern for Bowen seeing as Reading have only won one of their last six league games on home turf.

Stoke City boss Michael O'Neill on February 15, 2020© Reuters

Meanwhile, Stoke will be aiming to build upon their five-game unbeaten run as they look to distance themselves from the drop zone.

The Potters have managed two wins and two draws from their most recent Championship outings, and they inflicted a 5-1 thrashing on a struggling Hull City side just before the enforced shutdown.

Manager Michael O'Neill announced his positive test for coronavirus last week, but the Potters have continued to train as normal and are optimistic that O'Neill will be back in time for the trip to Reading.

Even though Stoke had managed to string a decent set of results together before the season was suspended, they are still very much at risk of relegation as they lie three points above the bottom four.

Furthermore, Stoke's away form leaves a lot to be desired as they have only managed two wins from their last 11 on the road, although a lack of fans could potentially affect the home advantage phenomenon for Reading.

Stoke are five points adrift of 16th-placed Birmingham so cannot move any higher up the table, but O'Neill will no doubt be determined to see his side move further away from the relegation zone with victory this weekend.

The most recent meeting between the two clubs ended in a goalless stalemate back in December.

Reading Championship form: LWLLWW
Reading form (all competitions): WLLWLW

Stoke City Championship form: LLWDDW


Team News

Joe Allen celebrates scoring for Stoke City on December 10, 2019© Reuters

Reading's Andy Yiadom is doubtful with a hamstring problem, so veteran defender Chris Gunter is likely to fill in on the right-hand side of defence.

Lucas Boye tested positive for coronavirus so will not be involved here, but attacker Lucas Joao is fit again and available for selection.

Speculation has continued to grow over the future of striker George Puscas, but the Romanian could still be handed a start for the first match back.

Joe Allen is the only notable long-term absentee for Stoke as the Welshman continues to recover from a cruciate ligament rupture.

Sam Vokes and Jordan Cousins are reportedly struggling for match fitness and the duo may not be back in time for the trip to the Madejski.

Reading possible starting lineup:
Cabral; Gunter, Moore, Miazga, Richards; Rinomhota, Pele; Meite, Swift, Ejaria; Puscas

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Butland; Smith, Chester, Batth, Martins Indi; Powell, Clucas, Thompson; Ince, Gregory, Campbell


Sports Mole Logo

We say: Reading 2-1 Stoke City

Both sides were in good form prior to the coronavirus postponement and the two managers will be eager to see that momentum carry over into the next couple of months. This is a difficult one to call, but we are backing Reading to achieve their third win in succession.



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Stoke City boss Michael O'Neill on February 15, 2020
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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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