“Although they lost a few players in January with quality, they still have a very good side. The other players that have been filling in those positions have been doing very well. We need to be aware of their threats, and we are aware of them, so we will be giving it our best shot. We are and will be working very hard to get a result and to be mentally strong so we don’t give anything away.”– Reading FC Manager Jaap Stam
“It is a cliché in this league that anyone can beat anyone, but we don’t underestimate the opponents. We know we need to make sure we perform to the best of our abilities in every game. We are in a strong position but we can’t take it for granted, we go into every game with that mind set aiming to get those three points.”– Reading FC Midfielder George Evans“Reading are a good side, I enjoyed watching them. The sending off sort of changed the game here, we were pushing but I thought they defended fantastically well and deserved the win. Straight after the game, I know it sounds strange, but I was already thinking about playing them away. They were a bit different and I like how Jaap Stam has got them playing, the players that they’ve got, so I’m really looking forward to it.”– Barnsley Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom
Having just won the title of manager of the month in the Championship, all eyes will be on Jaap Stam and his team as they try to keep the pressure on their rivals. A 2-2 draw against Ipswich Town last time out was enough to keep them in third for the time being, but Stam will be keen to get back to winning ways.
The Reading manager, and Garath McCleary, will both be hoping for a less eventful game than the reverse fixture earlier in the season. McCleary opened the scoring, despite initially missing a penalty, with John Swift making it 2-0 to the Royals before half-time. Unfortunately for Reading, McCleary was also shown a red for a shove before the break. Barnsley pulled one back late on through Adam Armstrong but it was Reading who won the game 2-1.
The January transfer window was a successful one for the Royals and as a result Stam will have much to think about when selecting the team for Saturday. The main concern, however, will be the continued absence of Paul McShane, Tiago Ilori and Joey van den Berg. Barnsley, meanwhile, will be without the suspended Alex Mowatt and injured defender Aidy White.
Everything considered, the end result on Saturday should be a Reading win. In the Championship, however, anyone can beat anyone especially if they get their tactics right on the day. Barnsley have also won three of their last four games on the road in the Championship so it will not be easy for the home side.
Considering they are playing at what is becoming fortress Madejski, the Royals will remain favourites.