Talking points ahead of Hull game
As we look forward to welcoming Hull to Berkshire on Saturday afternoon, we take a look at some talking points ahead of the game.
Tuesday's cup loss will play a part in the squad selected - Stam rung the changes against Swansea the other night, surely in an attempt to give those players a chance who have been struggling for game time to stake their claim. Unfortunately, only a handful of players took their opportunity, mainly Evans, Bacuna and Popa. Expect to see the likes of Clement and Beerens omitted to make way, who didn't take their opportunity, as Stam attempts to keep his very large squad happy.
Hull in similar boat to Royals in failing to match expectations - Hull, as most relegated sides, had a sense of optimism despite losing Sam Clucas to Swansea, despite their ongoing ownership issues. They took a gamble with former CSKA manager Leonid Slutsky, which despite some decent performances, haven't got the results to match. We have struggled with the same issues - optimism but not much shown yet, as we both sit on the eight points in the bottom half of the table.
Should Stam go to a back five with Obita back in the fold? - I know some won't agree, but I much prefer us when we have five at the back. Stam does favour this away from home, but not as much at home with the lack of attacking intent from Blackett on the left side. Jordan Obita's return from injury could mean a return to this system, where we look a lot more solid defensively and means we can see Aluko more centrally, hopefully with Yann soon when he returns.
The first goal will be key - We are yet to score a first half goal this season, which is not a great stat on paper. Last season we did the opposite and hit teams early, then sit on the lead, which often worked. This season, we can't get that goal to settle us down - in the three games where we have scored first, we have got seven points from a possible nine. Getting an early goal on Saturday will be crucial.
Michael Hector returns - This will be the first return to the Madejski Stadium for Michael Hector since he left for Chelsea two seasons ago. Unfortunately it hasn't worked out as planned, as he enjoyed a spell in the Bundesliga last season, but has again dropped down to the Championship and has fallen into the usual Chelsea loanee trap. Big Hec will get a good reception from the fans as an academy graduate and good servant to the club.