BARNSLEY could take a big step towards securing a place in the top six when they host Reading from 3pm.

The Royals are currently 17th, nine points and four places clear of the relegation zone.

They could mathematically secure their safety at Oakwell depending on other results.

The Royals have been docked six points throughout the season for failing to pay staff and their tax bills amid a financial crisis which has allegedly led to them selling their training ground.

After 16 games, they were bottom and ten points from safety but have moved up the table under Ruben Selles.

This week they drew 1-1 at home to high-flying Lincoln City on Saturday then won 2-0 at mid-table Bristol Rovers on Tuesday.

Despite the midweek result, they have one of the worst away records in the division with just four wins and 17 points from 21 games on the road.

Their 41 away goals conceded is the most in the division.

Collins told the Chronicle: “Reading are really front-foot and aggressive against the ball. But they are expansive on the ball, they look to play and have good wingers.

“The manager has done a great job.

“These things can bring you together and give you a siege mentality.

“At this stage they are playing with a lot of freedom and enjoyment.

“But what we’re playing for should give even extra motivation and I think we’ll see that on Saturday.”

Collins added: “Reading, because of the points deduction, have gone under the radar.

“They have an exceptionally young group, with a lot of attacking talent which is their biggest strength.”

While they have broken club records on the road, Barnsley have the 12th best home record in League One, and only the bottom two have conceded more goals on their own turf.

The Reds have let in more home goals this season, with two games to play, than in the 2021/22 relegation campaign.

The Reds have not won in four home games, not scoring in the last two.

Goalkeeper David Button – who had a brief loan spell at Barnsley in 2012 – was Reading’s first choice all season until being dropped to the bench last month.

Andy Yiadom, the former Reds captain, has been in and out of the 11. He is an injury doubt for Saturday’s game.

Barnsley won 3-1 at Reading in December, the first of a series of comeback victories this season. Herbie Kane scored a penalty equaliser then Devante Cole and Max Watters netted late on.

That ended a ten-match winless run against the Royals.

But the last time Reading lost at Oakwell was in 1998, after which they have drawn five and won five of their ten visits.

The last four games at Oakwell have all finished 1-1, with the most recent being in April 2022.

This will be the 82nd meeting between the clubs, with Barnsley winning 27 and losing 32.