It`s been a long summer but finally Championship football is back and the Royals will be looking to get off to a great start at home to Scunthorpe on Saturday. After the brilliant second half to last season, many have tipped us for promotion, and Brian McDermott will be looking to continue the great work he has done since taking over from Brendan Rodgers.
There have not been too many additions to the squad but one signing in particular would have pleased the Madejski Stadium faithful and that was the return of Andy Griffin on a permanent deal. The right back spent time on loan here last season and became a massive crowd favourite, but for times during the summer it looked like we wouldn`t get our man as he wanted to keep his family based up North. However the lure of first team football, and a club that wanted him, was too much and he signed a two year contract in July.
The only other signing has been Marcus Williams, who will make his debut against his old club on Saturday and has taken over as the clubs first choice left back. That position was vacant after Ryan Bertrand returned to Chelsea after a loan spell and the defender will have big boots to fill but early signs are positive.
It`s going to be a long old ride but the confidence is there in the squad and we look more than capable of making an assault on the play offs in a very open league this year.
Marcus Williams on his old club Scunthorpe and his ambitions of making the Premier League-
‘A lot of teams underestimated them last season, but they get in your face and they will be fit. We just need to do what we`ve been doing in training and take that into the games ourselves. We`ve got a great squad and there are also some good young players coming through. If we can get the results then hopefully we will be in the Premier League next season.’
Captain Matt Mills on the season ahead –
‘With the form we had at the second half of last season and the fact we`ve kept our best players and added to the squad, there`s no reason why we can`t do well. We`ll tick the games off as we go along and pick up as many points as we can and see where we are.’
Scunthorpe boss Nigel Adkins on his team selection including the fitness of defender Rob Jones –
‘Rob trained full-on with us and he was fine, no problems. I don`t see any reason why he wouldn`t be available for selection. We`re very happy with him. Cliff Byrne and Eddie Nolan are the other two lads who have been on the treatment table and we`ll just have to see how they progress. We`ll keep Reading guessing.’
Reading Team News:
Jimmy Kebe is winning his fitness battle and should be fit enough to start after a groin injury. Simon Church is set to lead the line after scoring 4 goals in pre season and he will get the nod ahead of Shane Long as the loan striker. Long will be on the bench though after overcoming a bang to the head last weekend against Southampton.
Adam Federici will start in goal, with a back four of Andy Griffin, Matt Mills, Alex Pearce and Marcus Williams.
Jay Tabb and Brian Howard will anchor the midfield with Gylfi Sigurdsson pushing on through the middle to support Church.
Kebe and Jobi McAnuff will be the two wingers with Noel Hunt hoping to be fit enough to feature from the bench. He could be joined by Brynjar Gunnarsson, Jem Karacan, Hal Robson Kanu, Michail Antonio and sub keeper Ben Hamer.
Player to watch: Jimmy Kebe
The Malian winger has been on fire pre season and if he can continue the form that saw him end the last season as one of the most feared players in the Championship.
Scunthorpe Team News:
The visitors have been forced to sell star striker Gary Hooper to Celtic but have replaced him with Rochdale’s Chris Dagnall.
Cliff Byrne and Eddie Nolan are expected to miss out through injury but captain Rob Jones should be fit to take his place at the centre of the defence.
Player to watch: Chris Dagnall
His goals helped fire Rochdale to promotion last season and he has stepped up to Championship level with Scunny. Knows where the back of the net is and will lead the line on his own against the Royals.
Tuesday 20th April 2010, Scunthorpe 2-2 Royals.
Fred Graham will be the man in the middle.
I think we will have too much for Scunthorpe and will record a comfortable home win, 3-1. Sigurdsson, Church and Howard will score the goals!
Wednesday 11th August, Torquay (A) Carling Cup