There is a lot of evidence to suggest Reading still has the fight to remain in the Championship, even if they are currently operating without a manager and are still recovering from a six-point deduction. The Royals fired manager Paul Ince last week and are still in the relegation zone on goal differential after nine league games without a victory. Despite this, they have drawn four of their last five games, including a 0-0 goalless draw last time out at home against Burnley, who are headed to the Premier League.
They will now take the field in front of their supporters once more in an effort to improve upon their record of only two losses in 13 competitive home games (W5, D5). That will be challenging against a Luton team that is having a strong season, but Reading’s four league victories from the previous five head to head meetings at the Select Car Leasing Stadium (L1) should give them some encouragement.
With only four rounds remaining, Luton appeared to have all but locked up a play-off spot after their recent 2-0 victory at Rotherham put them 12 points clear of eighth position. The Hatters still have a remote chance of securing automatic promotion, but second-placed Sheffield United do have a five-point lead and a game in hand. Even if it turns out to be a step too far, Luton’s streak of 10 unbeaten games (W7, D3), which is their best at this level in 40 years, is deserving of praise.
Luton’s recent 2-0 win at Rotherham pushed them 12 points clear of ninth place with only four matches left, giving them a virtual lock on a play-off spot. However, second-placed Sheffield United does hold a five-point advantage and a game in hand over the Hatters, who still have a slim chance of earning automatic promotion. Luton’s run of 10 unbeaten games (W7, D3), their longest at this level in 40 years, is commendable, even if it ends up being a step too far.
Andy Carroll has scored in two of Reading’s past three home games and has scored each of his previous four league goals at home. When Carlton Morris left the field limping after scoring against Rotherham, Luton supporters were left dreading the worse because he has been involved in almost half of their goals this season (G18, A6). This will probably put further pressure on Cauley Woodrow, who secured the points in that game after first missing a penalty.
Andy Carroll, who replaced youngster Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan for the final 28 minutes of Reading’s match against Burnley, might be added back to the starting lineup.
Hunt will probably want to keep the remainder of the team, though, given how well they performed against the leads in the race, barring any injuries.
After Sonny Bradley played the whole 90 minutes on Saturday for the first time since the World Cup, Edwards will need to decide whether to keep the defender in the Luton starting lineup.
Given that Alfie Doughty’s injury status is still unknown and the existing midfield trio is performing admirably, it is likely that Edwards will stick with the same lineup.
Luke Berry or Luke Freeman might replace Allan Campbell if there are any changes.
Reading possible starting lineup
Lumley, Yiadom, Holmes, Sarr, Guinness-Walker, Azeez, Hendrick, Casadei, Fornah, Joao and Ehibhatiomhan.
Luton Town possible starting lineup
Horvath, Burke, Bradley, Lockyer, Drameh, Nakamba, Mpanzu, Bell, Campbell, Morris and Woodrow.
We predict: Reading 1-1 Luton Town
Hunt will support his Reading team to shut out Luton after doing so against Burnley on Saturday. However, the visitors are more fired up than the champion in waiting, and we think Edwards’ team will firmly establish their playoff spot.