“Burnley will be strong, solid, well-organised and difficult to beat,” explained the Royals boss. “They have started the season well – sometimes there is a little bounce effect when you get relegated, and you don’t start so well, but Sean and his team have started the season well and we’re looking forward a really difficult game.”- Reading Manager Steve Clarke
““They’ve had some good results. We know there is no easy ride in the Championship and we have to be prepared for every game, every half even.”- Burnley Manager Sean Dyche
Following Reading’s exit from the Capital One Cup earlier this week, focus returns to the Championship and this weekend an away visit to promotion candidates Burnley. Both sides currently find themselves in the play-off spots, a position they will be keen on maintaining throughout the season.
Last time out in the Championship, Reading beat Bristol City away from home in a comfortable 2-0 victory. Goals came from the Royals’ top scorer Nick Blackman and a recently returned Garath McCleary. So far Reading have won three, drawn three and lost two of their matches but specifically away from home they have only been beaten on one occasion.
Burnley, meanwhile, have an unbeaten run of five games with their last defeat coming away from home to Ipswich. Their last game saw them draw away from home to Derby, but at home they have won all but one of their fixtures so far this season.
Following numerous changes made by Steve Clarke for Reading’s cup game against Everton, the Reading manager will probably revert to a similar team to the one that played Bristol. Anton Ferdinand remains sidelined through injury, while Orlando Sa completes his three match ban. Other than that the Reading manager has a whole host of options to choose from.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche, meanwhile, has a few more injury concerns to cope with. Andre Gray will be assessed after his hamstring injury but Lukas Jutkiewicz, Ashley Barnes and Daniel Lafferty are all still sidelined for the long-term. Joey Barton, however, could make his debut for the home side as he edges towards full fitness.
If statistics and current form are anything to go by, this should be a tight run game. Burnley are doing well at home, Reading are doing well away and both have strong squads. As the Derby game showed, all you need is one incident to swing the balance so Clarke will be keen on keeping all eleven players on the pitch.
Having been relegated from the Premiership last season, Burnley will arguably be Reading’s toughest test thus far. If the Royals perform to their full capabilities and if the goalkeeper refrains from committing any howlers then they have the potential to cause an upset.