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While Preston North End and Peterborough United threatened to derail Bournemouth’s automatic promotion bid during a disappointing start to the month, Scott Parker‘s side avoided a third game without victory in the second tier with a comfortable success over Derby.
With five minutes of injury time on the clock in the first half, Dominic Solanke bagged his 21st goal of the season to propel the Cherries into the ascendancy before substitute Jamal Lowe rounded off the scoring in the 90th minute of that two-goal success.
Managing to usurp runaway leaders Fulham may be a bridge too far for ex-Cottager Parker – whose side sit 12 points behind the capital outfit with two games in hand – while third-placed Huddersfield Town remain two points behind the Cherries having played three games more.
The runners-up spot is firmly in Bournemouth’s hands heading into the final stretch of the season, and having taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer at the Vitality Stadium, the automatic promotion-chasers will be out to serve Reading a slice of humble pie in midweek.
Life may have begun swimmingly for Paul Ince at Reading with that maiden victory over Birmingham City, but the ex-Manchester United midfielder is facing a swift demotion to the third tier unless he inspires a major turnaround in fortunes between now and May.
Nottingham Forest’s Keinan Davis took all of 17 seconds to open the scoring at the City Ground, and the floodgates opened thereafter, as Davis added a second for himself while Ryan Yates and Sam Surridge also helped themselves to goals in a 4-0 drubbing.
A third successive defeat leaves Ince’s side fighting to salvage their second-tier status in the lower echelons of the table, with the Royals entering Tuesday’s game down in 20th but still boasting an unassailable four-point lead over Barnsley for the time being.
Bournemouth lynchpin Philip Billing is serving the second of a two-game ban this week, while Adam Smith is also suspended. The Cherries boss is also on the naughty step, though, with Parker serving a touchline ban for his actions against Preston North End.
Junior Stanislas and Kieffer Moore have now been joined in the treatment room by Leeds United loanee Leif Davis, who lasted 29 minutes of the win over Derby before coming off with a hip flexor issue.
Jordan Zemura ought to deputise for Davis here, and while Lowe would be a candidate to come back into the first XI here, the 27-year-old will need to be assessed after picking up a knock before his goal.
Meanwhile, Reading attacker Lucas Joao was fit enough for a substitute cameo against Forest despite a recent bout of COVID-19, but Tom Holmes and John Swift are both uncertain after also picking up the virus.
Karl Hein, Felipe Araruna, Abdul-Rahman Baba, Femi Azeez and Dejan Tetek make up a quintet of injury concerns for Ince, who will certainly consider some alterations after Saturday’s dismal showing.
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Orjan Nyland is certainly a contender to displace Luke Southwood in between the sticks, while Joao could operate at the tip of the attack if Ince deems him fit enough to do so.
Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Travers; Stacey, Phillips, Kelly, Zemura; Lerma, Cook, Cantwell; Christie, Solanke, Anthony
Reading possible starting lineup:
Nyland; Yiadom, Morrison, Dann, McIntyre; Drinkwater, Rinomhota; Ince, Ejaria, Hoilett; Joao