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Following an impressive run of results in September, Reading’s fortunes took a sharp dip before the recent international break, as Veljko Paunovic‘s men fell to four consecutive defeats.
In those games, the Royals conceded eight goals and scored just two at the other end, as they were toppled by Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers, Bournemouth and Millwall, triggering a quick drop towards the bottom end of the division.
As a result, they now possess one of the league’s worst defensive records, with only Cardiff City and newly-promoted Peterborough United shipping more goals than their 29, but Paunovic’s men did manage to arrest their slump.
In the final game before the recent break, a second-half Jahmari Clarke brace saw them overturn a deficit to pick up a vital away win over Birmingham City, before they returned to action on Saturday with a 1-1 draw at home to Nottingham Forest, as Scott Dann swept in an equaliser.
Now sitting 19th in the English second tier, the Royals will look to make it three games without a defeat on Tuesday, when they welcome Sheffield United to the Madejski Stadium.
Reading have an unenviable list of injuries to contend with, as Jahmari Clarke, Junior Hoilett, Yakou Meite, Lucas Joao, Femi Azeez and Alen Halilovic are all missing from the attacking line, while defenders Tom McIntyre and Michael Morrison and midfielder Andy Rinomhota will also continue spells on the sidelines.
Given those absences, George Puscas should continue to lead the line, while the signing of experienced forward Andy Carroll offers competition, with winger Ovie Ejaria also bringing quality in the final third.
John Swift, who was previously targeted by Tuesday’s opponents during their spell in the Premier League, has been the star man for the Royals so far this term, netting eight goals and providing eight assists in 18 appearances.
Sheffield United could remain without goalkeeper Robin Olsen, who missed out through injury at the weekend, but Wes Foderingham impressed with a clean sheet and continues to provide adequate cover between the sticks.
Upon the return of centre-back Ben Davies, the Blades switched to a back three of Saturday, and Jokanovic should again deploy Chris Basham, John Egan and Davies as a defensive unit.
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Experienced midfielder Ollie Norwood will also return from a suspension on Tuesday, and he could take a spot back in the centre at the expense of Conor Hourihane, while Lys Mousset and Rhian Brewster will both be pushing for starts in the front line after they were on the bench last time out.
Reading possible starting lineup:
Southwood; Holmes, Moore, Dann, Rahman; Drinkwater, Laurent; Yiadom, Swift, Ejaria; Puscas
Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Foderingham; Basham, Egan, Davies; Bogle, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens; Gibbs-White, Sharp, Brewster