Struggling Newcastle are edging ever closer to the drop zone and after their insipid 0-0 draw at Norwich last week, currently only sit two points clear of safety.
The Magpies have been further hit this week after Loic Remy, who by all accounts was set to join the North East-based club, instead chose the move to bottom-placed side QPR. Added to the fact that they face a fast-improving Reading side who have taken seven points from their last four games to sit only five points behind Newcastle and it is clear that this is a game that neither can really afford to lose.
Alan Pardew could welcome back centre-back Steven Taylor after missing the last 11 matches with a hamstring injury. It will be hoped that the renewal of his partnership with Fabricio Coloccini can aid the unsettled Argentine, who has been agitating for a move back to his homeland. Vital midfielder Yohan Cabaye is also pushing for start after returning from injury at Norwich last weekend while Shola Ameobi returns from suspension.
For the visitors, Brian McDermott may look to keep to the same line-up that finished last week’s miraculous 3-2 comeback victory at home to West Brom. Striker Adam Le Fondre has looked lively off the bench in recent weeks and having been credited with changing the game after his introduction against the Baggies, could be handed a start alongside the in-form Pavel Pogrebnyak. Elsewhere, Stephen Kelly could make his debut after signing from Fulham in the week but Hal Robson-Kanu, Jason Roberts and Alex McCarthy remain absent.