The Royals are 16th in the league, five points clear of the bottom three and eight ahead of second-bottom Barnsley. They have collected 20 points from their 17 matches at the Madejski Stadium which is the lowest home tally in the division, while they have not won there in seven attempts since Boxing Day.
Whereas Barnsley have won their last three, Reading have recorded only one victory in ten Championship games, including a 3-0 home defeat to lowly Wigan Athletic on Wednesday. Reds head coach Gerhard Struber told the Chronicle: “Reading are a very good team. I remember the last game in Oakwell, we played very well and, with our expected goals, normally we must win. It is the right time for the next big game and I hope my boys can bring the next focus and concentration.
“The structure in our diamond midfield in the first half in Hull (a 1-0 win on Wednesday) was so clear and this helped us. Maybe we go also in the diamond in Reading.”
Barnsley won just one of their first 16 away games this season but have won their last two at Fulham and Hull. Struber said: “We have the support from the fans at home and away which is a big help for us. “I hope we can bring our style in every game, away or at home. We just need to focus on my style.”
Struber is focusing on keeping his players fresh for their seventh game of the month. He said: “There was a lot of energy necessary to win in Hull. Now our focus is on Saturday at Reading and we have to recover our battery. We will prepare very well for another difficult opponent. It will not be so easy to bring this same energy that we need against Reading. But the big goal is to win. We have no time to relax, we have to look forward with a good focus and regeneration so we can fight at Reading.”
Reading sacked manager Jose Gomez in October after his side collected eight points from their first 11 league games. Mark Bowen – the former Wales player and assistant to Mark Hughes at Manchester City and other clubs – took over, having been sporting director. He won eight of his first 14 league games, including four in a row either side of Christmas, moving them 12 points clear of the bottom three and five off the play-offs by January 1.
They then failed to win any of their next seven before a 3-0 success at Sheffield Wednesday last week. They returned to Yorkshire for a 1-0 loss at high-flying Leeds United on Saturday before losing to Wigan in midweek. Reading drew 1-1 at Oakwell in December, with Cauley Woodrow opening the scoring when Michael Morrison’s attempted clearance was blocked, but Lucas Joao levelled.
Reading have former Barnsley captain Andy Yiadom, who missed the return to Oakwell through injury. The 28-year-old Ghana international full-back made 66 appearances for the Reds from 2016 to 2018 and has now played 69 games for the Royals.
This will be the 76th meeting of the two clubs, with Barnsley having won 26 and lost 29. The Reds have not won any of the last five clashes, losing two and drawing three – including the last two meetings which have finished 1-1. Barnsley’s three wins in 17 meetings with Reading in the last 21 years have all come at the Madejski Stadium. They won 2-1 in both 2009 and 2011 before a 3-1 success in 2014.
Their last game at the Berkshire club brought a 3-0 loss in November 2017. Of their 12 visits to Reading, over the last 30 years, they have lost three, drawn four and won five. Barnsley goalkeeper Sami Radlinger could return to training next week after missing the last five games with injury.