Still buoyant from a resounding victory over fellow promotion hopefuls AFC Bournemouth, the Royals travel to Staffordshire in high spirits as they prepare to face a Stoke City side who are yet to win in the new year.
However, the Potters, who sit 10th remain very much in the play-off hunt and will be eager to return to winning ways by completing the double over the Royals this season, having inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Veljko Paunović’s men earlier in the season.
A win on the road for the Royals will keep them firmly in the chase for a top two spot and would extend our unbeaten run to seven games after we avoided defeat in January for the first time in 14 years.
How to watch
Saturday afternoon’s clash at the bet365 Stadium is available for supporters to watch via iFollow.
Supporters can grab their match pass to watch proceedings unfold, by clicking here ahead of kick-off in Staffordshire.
Michael O’Neill’s Potters have been circling the top six for the majority of what has been a successful first full season in Staffordshire for the former-Northern Ireland boss.
Despite a strong start to the season, Stoke have now failed to win since a 1-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers back in December, and this has seen them fall four points adrift of sixth as they begin the approach to the business end of the campaign.
Last time out, Saturday’s hosts earnt a point with a 1-1 draw away at Huddersfield Town, during which January signing Rhys Norrington-Davies was sent off, making him unavailable for the visit of the Royals.
The Staffordshire side moved to bolster their ranks during the January transfer window, as Norrington-Davies, Rabbi Matondo, Alfie Doughty and Jack Clarke arrived at the bet365 Stadium.
One to watch: Steven Fletcher
The Scottish international has proved a hit in the Potteries since his arrival on a free from Sheffield Wednesday, and has found the net six times this season, inclusive of goals in Stoke’s previous two outings.
Fletcher, who has over 150 career goals to his name, began his career with Hibernian in 2003, and has since gained a wealth of Premier League experience with Burnley, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sunderland.
The 33-year-old striker, who has represented his country on 33 occasions, doubled the Potters lead in the reverse fixture against the Royals back in November on an afternoon to forget at the Madejski.
Saturday’s fixture offers the Royals chance to bring an end to a poor record against the Potters.
Reading have not beaten Stoke since April 2006, when goals from Kevin Doyle, Steve Sidwell and John Halls saw the Royals break the 100-point barrier, all but securing promotion to the Premier League.
The last time the two sides met in Stoke, the side’s drew a stalemate in December 2019. The Royals last won away against the Potters, when a Dave Kitson penalty saw the points return to Berkshire.
Of the 53 meetings between the sides, the Royals have won 17 and drawn 17 of those.
Tim Robinson will be the man in the middle in Staffordshire, for what will be his second Reading game of the season.
Robinson last officiated a Royals match back in September 2020, during which goals from Yakou Méïté and Michael Olise saw Reading record a 2-0 win over Barnsley.
Andrew Fox and Richard Wild will assist Robinson in Stoke, while Paul Marsden will be the fourth official on this occasion.
During Robinson’s 21 league games to date, he has issued 69 yellow cards and an additional five red cards.
A polite reminder to our supporters that no unauthorised access will be permitted to this game, so supporters must not travel to the bet365 Stadium.
We can’t wait to see you all again soon – but for now it’s important that when we play, please stay away.