The Madejski Stadium will play host to a contest between last season’s Championship winners Reading and play-off winners West Ham. However, Sam Allardyce’s high-flying Hammers currently sit a full 13 points ahead of their struggling opponents, who lie joint-bottom with QPR after only a solitary league win after 19 games so far this season.
Brian McDermott will take heart from some improved showings of late, firstly in their courageous late defeat at champions Manchester City before moving off the bottom of the table with a 0-0 home draw to Swansea on Boxing Day, providing a welcome clean sheet for the Premier League’s worst defence. The Royals have no new injury problems from the Swansea clash, with only Jason Roberts and goalkeeper Alex McCarthy remaining absent with hip and shoulder injuries respectively.
Meanwhile, West Ham should be fresh after failing to take the field on Boxing Day after the postponement of their clash with Arsenal due to the London Underground strike. The Hammers are able to call upon Carlton Cole after the England international saw his red card obtained in defeat against Everton overturned on appeal.
Cole’s return will boost an injury-hit Hammers outfit, who may be without Gary O’Neill and Guy Demel, as well as confirmed absentees George McCartney, Momo Diame, Andy Carroll, Yossi Benayoun and Ricardo Vaz Te.