Keown and Sweeney on benchThe injury-ravaged Royals squad was further depleted on New Year's Day, with the news that Hal Robson-Kanu (calf) and Jobi McAnuff (foot) missed the 1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest.
That meant ten first team players were unavailable to the Royals boss - Wayne Bridge (knee), Sean Morrison (knee), Kaspars Gorkss (suspended), Chris Baird (ankle), Mikele Leigertwood (ankle), Jem Karacan (knee), Jordan Obita (illness), Jason Roberts (hip), and now both Hal and Jobi.
Nigel Adkins was forced to name two of our under-21 squad who are yet to make their professional debuts on his substitutes bench in 18-year-old defender Niall Keown and 19-year-old defender Pierce Sweeney.
Nick Blackman started on the wing in place of McAnuff, while Stephen Kelly grabbed a late leveler after filling in at right-back - Chris Gunter moving into a central defensive position to cover for the suspended Kaspars Gorkss.
Royston Drenthe missed the trip to Middlesbrough on Sunday due to personal reasons, but the Dutchman returned to the squad for the visit of Nottingham Forest.
Keown and Sweeney - who are they?
Name: Niall Keown
Position: Central Defender/Right back
Defender who joined the Academy late, in 2011, and went almost straight in to the under-18s team.
Was a key member of the Academy side in 2011/12, and played a large number of games for the under-21s in 2012/13 that season despite still being eligible for the under-18s.
Niall is the son of former Royal, Martin, who played regularly for both Arsenal and England.
Name: Pierce Sweeney
Position: Central Defender
Promising centre half, comfortable with the ball at his feet, who joined the Royals for an undisclosed fee from Irish Premier League outfit Bray Wanderers in July 2012.
Started his career on the Emerald Isle with well renowned youth side Belvedere, and is already an Ireland youth international, playing alongside Royals Academy full back Shane Griffin at schoolboy level.
Featured heavily for the under-21s throughout the 2012/13 season and scored his first goal in a Reading shirt for the U21s in April 2013. Has also represented the Republic of Ireland at youth level, along with fellow Royals youngsters Shane Griffin and Sean Long.