Reading vs Portsmouth Preview
Steve Cotterill is set to name the same eleven that started in the 1-0 victory at Leicester a fortnight ago, meaning both Jamie Ashdown, Dave Kitson and Greg Halford will play against their former club.
Noel Hunt is a doubt for Reading as he has a foot injury whilst Mikele Liegertwood and Matt Mills are also rated as doubtful. Andy Griffin has recovered from an achilles injury and may line up against his former club.
After a couple of weeks that seem to have dragged on forever, Pompey fans are gearing up for their most local game of the season and one that may also be the most important of the campaign to date.
3,800 tickets have already been sold to Pompey fans for this crucial game and the other 200 available are expected to be sold on the day, which shows you that Pompey fans still believe their team can finish in the top six following a superb run of form.
However, Brian McDermott's men will be tough opposition as they have been performing well since the turn of the year and are unbeaten in their last seven Championship games.
And whilst Pompey's defensive record has been exemplary, the Royals possess one of the best strikers in the Championship in Shane Long whilst Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff are two of best wingers in the division.
Even the full backs are chipping in with goals as Ian Harte has eight goals to his name and Matt Mills has five. Suffice to say, I wouldn't be surprised to see Pompey concede tomorrow.
So, it'll be up to David Nugent to pull a rabbit out of the hat again, or maybe Dave Kitson will produce the goods against his former club. Liam Lawrence hasn't been at his best since his return either, so maybe he will conjure up a piece of magic that could be the difference between the two sides.
In normal circumstances a draw would be an acceptable result here, but if Pompey are serious about finishing in the top six then only a win will do.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Alex McCARTHY
RB: Matt MILLS
CB: Zurab KHIZANISHIVILI
CB: Ivar INGIMARSSON
LB: Ian HARTE
RM: Jimmy KEBE
CM: Brynjar GUNNARSSON
CM: Jem KARACAN
LM: Jobi McANUFF
CF: Shane LONG
CF: Simon CHURCH
GK: Jamie ASHDOWN
RB: Ritchie DE LAET
CB: Greg HALFORD
CB: Ricardo ROCHA
LB: Hermann HREIDARSSON
DM: Jonathan HOGG
DM: Hayden MULLINS
RM: David COTTERILL
CM: Liam LAWRENCE
LM: David NUGENT
CF: Dave KITSON
Last Time: Reading 0 Portsmouth 2 (Premier League - 01/01/2008)
Ibrahima Sonko was sent off for Reading after just three minutes of this game after bringing down Benjani in the box, but Niko Kranjcar hit the crossbar with the resulting penalty.
Thankfully Sol Campbell bundled in the opening goal from Glen Johnson's cross after nine minutes and then in the second half John Utaka took advantage of Nicky Shorey's lack of pace and then rounded Marcus Hahnemann to score the goal that ultimately killed the game.
I worry how Hermann and De Laet will cope with Kebe and McAnuff on the wings and so I expect a lot of crosses will have to be dealt with by the defence. My head says we'll draw but my heart says we'll win and keep the play-off hopes alive.
Reading 1 Portsmouth 2