There’s no game for our senior squad this season, owing to the international break – and a number of our players are away with their countries. But we also have a batch of youngsters out on loan who could feature this Saturday!
And there are important points up for grabs with those clubs – plenty of tests ahead and a chance to show character…
In Sky Bet League One, we have two loanees whose sides are in desperate need of the points to try and claw their way out of the mire.
Sam Smith, who scored his second goal for Oxford last week in the Checkatrade Trophy, will hope to lead the line again when they host Gillingham at the Kassam Stadium. A win for the U’s would lift them level with the Gills in the league standings… although they’ll need to be wary of the division’s top scorer Tom Eaves on the opposition teamsheet.
Meanwhile Tennai Watson will hope to get the nod for AFC Wimbledon as they travel to a Doncaster side who are winless in six. Nine defeats from ten league games meant that boss Neal Ardley paid with his job – despite cup wins against Stevenage and Haringey. Simon Bassey takes control of his first match as temporary boss, and Watson will hope to return to the starting line-up again after dropping back to the bench for their televised FA Cup tie.
And finally in the EFL divisions, Northampton Town and Lewis Ward travel down to Exeter’s St James Park where they take on the promotion-chasing Grecians in Sky Bet League Two – a side which includes a couple of former Reading Academy graduates in the shape of Jake Taylor and Pierce Sweeney. Ward’s four appearances so far for the Cobblers have been exclusively in cup competitions but he has been regularly amongst the subs for the league fixtures.
Two of our Academy products will be in action for Aldershot – Josh Barrett and Gabriel Osho both started last weekend as the National League side held League One Bradford City to a 1-1 draw on a sodden day in Hampshire. And now, back in league action, it’s no easier a task ahead when they travel north to visit Salford City, who currently sit third in the division. Spearheaded by former Swindon and Birmingham striker Adam Rooney, Salford haven’t lost a game in any competition since mid-August.
Ade Shokunbi and Billericay – who currently sit at the top of the National League South – are at Hungerford Town this weekend. Jokull Andresson is unlikely to be involved for the hosts once again as he continues his return to fitness after sustaining a nasty head injury, but Shokunbi and his teammates will aim to continue their fine run of form – especially in light of holding Chesterfield to a draw in the FA Cup last time out.
And finally, two of our Under-18s goalkeepers could meet in the Southern League Premier Division South. Scholars James Hillson and Adam Desbois are on work experience with Salisbury and Hartley Wintney respectively, and the sides meet at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium this Saturday.