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

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

Stoke City will be looking to resurrect their playoff hopes when they host high-flying Reading in the Championship on Saturday.

Having started 2021 in seventh position, the Potters have suffered a poor run of form and have slipped down to 10th, while the Royals are currently in fourth spot.

Match preview

Stoke City manager Michael O'Neill pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Since beating Middlesbrough on December 5, Stoke have won just one of their last 10 league games; their current winless run of seven matches is the joint-longest in the Championship heading into the weekend's fixtures.

Nonetheless, the Potters have just about remained in the playoff picture and are only four points behind sixth-placed Bournemouth, who have been similarly off-colour in recent weeks.

Stoke's cause has been helped by the fact that seven of their last 10 league matches have ended in draws, meaning they are at least picking up points.

Most recently they drew 1-1 away at Huddersfield Town, holding on in the second half following Rhys Norrington-Davies's red card just before the break.

Michael O'Neill's side have won just five of their 13 league games at the Bet365 Stadium this season, while only Birmingham City have conceded more goals at home than the Potters (19)

If Stoke are to break into the top six then the next few weeks could be crucial as after Saturday's game they face Norwich City and Brentford before the end of February and then Swansea City at the start of March.

Tyrese Campbell shoots for Stoke City against Reading in the Championship on November 7, 2020© Reuters

The Potters won 3-0 at the Madejski Stadium back in November and have not lost any of their last eight meetings with the Royals.

However, the Berkshire outfit will be out for revenge as part of what Veljko Paunovic has labelled 'payback month', where they face a host of teams that defeated them in the first half of the season.

So far they have won against Coventry City and Bournemouth and taken a point off Preston North End, helping them put together a six-game unbeaten run in the Championship.

Reading's 3-1 victory against the Cherries last Friday was particularly impressive as goals from Josh Laurent, Tom McIntyre and Lucas Joao in the space of 19 first-half minutes effectively won the game by half time.

The result means Reading are now within four points of the automatic promotion spots and seven points clear of seventh-placed Middlesbrough.

However, the Royals have not won consecutive games since the end of October and have won just two of their last nine away matches.

Stoke City Championship form: DLDDLD
Stoke City form (all competitions): LLDDLD

Reading Championship form: WDWWDW
Reading form (all competitions): DWLWDW

Team News

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Norrington-Davies is suspended following his red card against Huddersfield last weekend, meaning that Michael O'Neill may switch to a back three with Jack Clarke and James McClean featuring as wing backs.

O'Neill has said he is optimistic that Nick Powell will play a part after the forward missed the draw against Huddersfield with a tight hamstring.

Andy Yiadom and Yakou Meite made their respective returns from injury as substitutes in Reading's win over Bournemouth, and both players are now in contention for starts at the Bet365 Stadium.

Ovie Ejaria was taken off against the Cherries with concussion, but Paunovic has said he expects the midfielder to be available.

Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Gunn; Collins, Souttar, Chester; Clarke, Thompson, Mikel, Allen, McClean; Fletcher, Brown

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

SM words green background

We say: Stoke City 0-1 Reading

This game could prove decisive for both teams in terms of the rest of the season and that may lead to a tense match decided by one goal. Reading will have taken confidence from their win over Bournemouth, and the Royals are keen to continue their 'payback month', so we are backing the visitors for the win.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away 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/Away:data

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9Queens Park RangersQPR461911165755268
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15Blackburn RoversBlackburn4615121965541157
16Coventry CityCoventry461413194961-1255
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18Birmingham CityBirmingham461313203761-2452
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21Derby CountyDerby461111243658-2244
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RRotherham UnitedRotherham46119264460-1642
RSheffield WednesdaySheff Weds461211234061-2141

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