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Nottingham Forest’s 2-1 win over Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday set up a quarter-final date with Liverpool next weekend, but Steve Cooper insists that his team’s full focus will be on the Championship until then.
Forest have a game in hand over all the other teams in the playoff race so remain in the thick of the battle and host seventh-placed Queens Park Rangers next Wednesday.
Cooper’s side have lost just one of their last nine league games, but have only won one of the last four; Ryan Yates rescued a 1-1 draw against Sheffield United last Friday with a 95th-minute equaliser.
The Reds have taken 10 points from the last 12 available on home turf, but have actually recorded more points from away games (27) than they have at the City Ground (25) this season.
Forest have not beaten Reading in six meetings since August 2018, but the Royals have not won on their last seven visits to the City Ground since November 2013.
After winning his first match as Reading interim manager against Birmingham City, Paul Ince has now suffered back-to-back defeats against Blackpool and Millwall.
There remains somewhat of a cushion between the Royals and the relegation zone, but with fixtures against two other promotion hopefuls in Bournemouth and Blackburn Rovers to come over the next week, they could easily get dragged right back into the scrap for survival.
The Berkshire outfit have lost six of their last eight away games in all competitions and only Peterborough United have conceded more goals in the Championship this season.
Four of the last five meetings between these two sides have ended level, including a 1-1 draw at the Select Car Leasing Stadium in this season’s reverse fixture.
Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Brice Samba is available after serving a three-match ban, but Steve Cooper has remained coy on whether he will replace Ethan Horvath who has impressed as deputy shot-stopper.
Sam Surridge will be eager to keep his place upfront after scoring on his first start for the club on Monday, but faces competition from Keinan Davis.
Captain Lewis Grabban, formerly of Reading, remains sidelined with an ankle injury but Cooper hopes to have him back after the international break.
Reading have signed Norwegian goalkeeper Orjan Nyland on a deal until the end of the season and he is available to make his debut at the City Ground.
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Lucas Joao has scored five goals in his last six games, but is a doubt for this fixture after suffering from illness this week.
Josh Laurent could return following a month on the sidelines with an ankle problem, but is unlikely to go straight back into the starting lineup.
Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:
Samba; Worrall, McKenna, Cook; Spence, Garner, Yates, Lowe; Zinckernagel; Johnson, Surridge
Reading possible starting lineup:
Southwood; Yiadom, Morrison, Holmes, McIntyre; Drinkwater, Rinomhota; Ince, Swift, Ejaria; Joao