A place in the Fifth Round of the Emirates FA Cup is at stake this weekend when Cardiff City visit Madejski Stadium – we’re still in the early stages, but the pool of clubs left in dwindles quickly round by round.
Manager Mark Bowen is keen to go through – to get our names into the hat for the next stage and to give our supporters the anticipation of looking forward to the balls being drawn.
“The players who were involved on Wednesday and those who weren’t will have a different workloads – but then we’ll reconvene on Friday and have a plan for Saturday,” he said.
“What I do know is that whoever plays, however many changes are made, believe me: everyone will want to win. Me, staff, players. We want to progress in the cup. It’s important for the club and the fans as well.
“I will pick a side that I believe can beat Cardiff. Fans want to see their team win, and the longer you stay in this competition, it starts to get the juices flowing and gives people a lift and starting to have an eye on the next round.
“We have players in the squad like Matt Miazga, who is delighted for the team when we do well but he’s also disappointed because he wants to play football. He is having to bite his lip and wait patiently, so Saturday gives him a chance to get in and put a performance in.”
It’ll be the first of two games against the Bluebirds in the space of less than a week.
After the FA Cup outing at Madejski Stadium, the Royals then host Bristol City in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday before heading to the Cardiff City Stadium for a league match next Friday evening.
“It’s a bit like the Nottingham Forest scenario – a couple of games against Cardiff in a short space of time!” Bowen continued.
“We’ll also have to see what team they put out and whether they make a lot of changes or not. You can learn a lot in the first game that you can take into the second game. So bring it on – we’re looking forward to it.”