Reading face off against Aston Villa at the Madejski in what must rank as the most crucial match in both sides’ respective seasons to date. The Royals currently occupy 19th position in the Premier League, just a single position and point behind Villa, who slipped to yet another defeat at home to Manchester City on Monday night to leave Paul Lambert’s young side inside the bottom three courtesy of the worst goal difference in the division.
Brian McDermott will be anxious to get his side back to winning ways with only 10 games and 30 points left to play for in the fight for survival. The Royals had been on a run of good form but since suffering defeat at Stoke in early February, have fallen to three more defeats against Manchester United (albeit in the cup), Wigan and Everton.
Reading continue to be without first-choice goalkeeper Adam Federici due to a sprained ankle and with Alex McCarthy still out with a dislocated shoulder, Stuart Taylor will step in-between the sticks against his former club. Elsewhere, McDermott must continue to cope without striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, who is serving the second match of a three-game ban picked up in the reverse to Wigan. Key winger Jimmy Kebe is also a fitness doubt.
The visitors could welcome back captain Ron Vlaar after the central-defender missed the last two matches with a calf injury. However, Fabian Delph misses out after picking up a two-match ban for his 10th booking of the season against City on Monday night. Darren Bent (ankle), Marc Albrighton (foot), Richard Dunne (groin) and Stillian Petrov (acute leaukaemia) are still all absent.