Birmingham City vs. Reading

Birmingham City and Reading square off on Friday evening with just three points separating the two clubs in the Championship table.

While 12th-placed Blues are winless in their last three fixtures, the Royals have recently moved back into eighth spot in the standings with two successive victories.

Match preview

Birmingham City manager John Eustace on August 27, 2022

Whether it is on or off the pitch, things are never simple where Birmingham are concerned, the club having recently dealt with another failed takeover bid.

Clarity behind the scenes and a sustained push for the playoffs seemed realistic not so long ago, but a three-match streak without success has left John Eustace’s side off the pace.

Blues now sit five points adrift of the top six, a home defeat to Sunderland coming in between draws with Swansea City and Blackpool, the most recent coming in a goalless stalemate last weekend.

Although it was another point and clean sheet on the road, Birmingham failed to take advantage against hosts who had lost their four matches before the World Cup break.

As well as being five points behind the playoff spots, the West Midlands outfit are the same amount above the relegation zone, and there is a need to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later.

Reading manager Paul Ince on November 1, 2022

Reading have recently proven that overcoming a period of poor form is possible by registering successive wins either side of the rest from competitive action.

The Royals recorded an impressive 1-0 triumph over a resurgent Coventry City last time out, Amadou Salif Mbengue netting the only goal of the game for his first of the season.

Paul Ince’s side have now posted 10 wins from their 22 matches, equalling their 10 defeats, but they are still within four points of third spot, rendering their inconsistency irrelevant.

Of course, Ince would prefer accumulating points on a regular basis, yet the unpredictability of this Reading side is perhaps aiding their efforts to remain as one of the surprise packages in this division.

Team News

Birmingham City's Lukas Jutkiewicz celebrates scoring their first goal on August 28, 2021

Despite the disappointment of the draw at Blackpool, Eustace is unlikely to make many alterations to his Blues XI.

Barring any injuries, only Lukas Jutkiewicz may come into contention for a recall, although the veteran forward has only made two starts in the Championship this campaign.

Krystian Bielik came through 90 minutes after his return from World Cup duty with Poland and should feature here.

Fellow World Cup representatives Junior Hoilett, Baba Rahman and Mamadou Loum also featured for Reading versus Coventry, but the latter will likely have to make do with a spot among the replacements.

While Tom Holmes is unlikely to be risked after suffering a head injury versus the Sky Blues, Ince has Tom McIntyre, who should be recalled, and Naby Sarr back at his disposal.

Birmingham City possible starting lineup:
Ruddy; Sanderson, Roberts, Trusty; Colin, Bacuna, Bielik, Mejbri, Longelo; Deeney, Chong

Reading possible starting lineup:
Lumley; Yiadom, McIntyre, Mbengue; Hoilett, Ince, Hendrick, Fornah, Rahman; Carroll, Meite

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