News and Views

Preview: Royals Start Capital One Cup Journey

11 August 2015
By Alex Bower

After a disappointing result against Birmingham City in the opening game of the Championship season, Reading FC will be keen on bouncing back immediately. The Royals take on League One side Colchester United in the first round of the Capital One Cup and will be optimistic of advancing in the competition.

Reading will feel hard done by after their 2-1 defeat at St. Andrews, with Aaron Tshibola being denied a debut equalising goal despite the ball crossing the line and with encroachment during a late penalty not being spotted by the referee. The Royals managed to amass twenty attempts on goal during the game, a welcome statistic bearing in mind last season's attacking limitations. With only seven of them being on target, however, there is still clearly room for improvement.

There are positives to be taken. Paul McShane and Steven Quinn seem to have settled in well. Tshibola made a strong debut and last season's loan spell certainly did him the world of good. Nick Blackman continued his pre-season form with a nicely taken headed goal. Oliver Norwood seems to be off to an impressive start and despite his penalty miss, Orlando Sa also showed glimmers of promise especially when holding up the ball. It is clear, however, that Reading are a side that still need another attacking threat and need to get players like Garath McCleary and Tariqe Fosu back in the side if they are to have any hope of threatening out wide.

In terms of the starting line-up, this is Clarke's opportunity to give other members of the squad game time. Ali Al-Habsi will be expected to start in goal having not featured against Birmingham. Anton Ferdinand was one player who was unlucky to miss out on a place in the team in the last match, but will also probably line up for the Royals this time out. It would also be a great time to hand Andrew Taylor his debut for the side. Orlando Sa could be set to start from the bench following his lengthy appearance in the last game, with Dominic Samuel, Simon Cox and Hal Robson-Kanu all in contention to start from the off.

Colchester, meanwhile, only just managed to avoid relegation from League One on the final day of last season. At the start of the new season, they were able to save a point against relegated Championship side Blackpool. Darren Ambrose scored in his Colchester debut and he will be one of the key experienced players for the side going into the cup game.

On paper, Reading's squad is of a much higher calibre even when taking the U-21 players and current injuries into consideration. As we all know far too well, however, cup games can genuinely go either way. This being said, I feel Reading will have enough to get through this game easily even this early on in the season (let's hope that statement doesn't come back to haunt me).

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