Middlesbrough welcome joint Championship leaders, Reading to the Riverside Stadium in Saturday’s big Sky Bet Championship clash.
Middlesbrough can climb as high as seventh with victory whilst Reading will go top if they better Bristol City’s result at Barnsley or pull a bigger winning margin than the Robins.
Middlesbrough have no fresh injury concerns after George Saville and Paddy McNair returned from international duty without harm.
Grant Hall (calf) and Ashley Fletcher (hamstring) look set to remain on sidelines but loan signing, Patrick Roberts could be in line to feature for Boro.
Reading could hand loan signings, Alfa Semedo and Tomas Esteves their debuts here.
Lucas Joao (shoulder) and Ovie Ejaria (illness) are expected to feature but Andy Yiadom, Felipe Araruna (both knee) and John Swift (hamstring) remain absent.
- Middlesbrough are unbeaten in their last seven matches against Reading (W7).
- Reading have won just one of their last six trips to the Riverside Stadium (W1, L5).
- There hasn’t been a draw in last eight meetings between Middlesbrough and Reading since a goalless 0-0 draw at Madejski Stadium in January 2015, whilst the last draw on Teesside came in March 2010 when drew 1-1.
- Victory would see Middlesbrough extend their unbeaten run to four matches (W1, D2), which would be their best run of form since late December 2019 to mid January 2020 (W4, D2).
- Reading haven’t won five consecutive league matches since 2016-17 season when they went unbeaten from 22 October – 26 November 2016, keeping clean sheets in four of those matches, before eventually finishing runners-up in the Play-Off Final after finishing the season in third place.
Reading have made an impressive start under Veljko Paunovic especially in a tricky last outing against a robust Watford defence so this will be a tough game for Middlesbrough, who are going to have to be at their defensive best if want a result.
Boro however can take heart from improved attacking displays in recent outings but will need to be clinical with their shots against this much improved Reading team, although their strong recent head-to-head record should give them a morale boost coming into this game.
This therefore is going to be another tough test for Boro but I have a feeling that they might spring a surprise.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-0 Reading
Result: Middlesbrough 0-0 Reading