News and Views

Royals Hope It's Another Blank For Blackman

12 January 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Brian McDermott, and the Reading FC board, will be hoping that the sale of Nick Blackman doesn't come back to haunt them tonight as the Royals face Derby County in the Championship. Nick Blackman, who was sold to the Rams for a fee rising up to three million pounds last week, is likely to make his home debut for his new club to face his old side. Derby were 2-1 winners at Hartlepool in the FA Cup on Saturday, with Blackman playing for 76 minutes and failing to take a couple of chances before being substituted. He is likely to be even more determined to get off the mark this evening, playing in front of his home fans for the first time. It appears to have made good business sense to dispose of Blackman for some decent cash, but that will be very much forgotten if Blackman is Reading's undoing this evening.

Derby are second in the Championship table - a whopping 15 points ahead of the Royals. They have lost just one league game in their last nine fixtures - and that was earlier this month away at table toppers Middlesbrough. After that minor set-back they will be hoping, and probably expecting, to get their automatic promotion campaign back on track against a struggling Reading side. McDermott has had mixed success since his return as Reading manager. His side have ground out two home wins, an away draw in the FA Cup and have suffered two other league defeats. It's still an improvement from the form in the last two months of Steve Clarke's charge but McDermott has plenty to do to win over those who weren't convinced about his return.

McDermott will still be trying to work out the weaknesses and strengths of his current squad that he inherited from Steve Clarke. Individual performances in the next few matches are likely to have a direct impact on McDermott's transfer window activity as he looks to re-invest the Blackman cash that should be made available to him. He will probably still be unsure of what his best starting eleven is, but there is unlikely to be big changes after he fielded a strong side in Saturday's 2-2 draw in the FA Cup with Huddersfield Town. Paul McShane and Michael Hector could both miss out again due to minor injuries. That could see Cooper and Ferdinand continue in the centre of defence. Lucas Piazon made an impact after he came off the bench with 68 minutes played on Saturday, and he will be hoping his match-turning performance earns him a starting place tonight.

Reading will be seeking revenge for the 0-1 home defeat against Derby earlier this season. Ince scored the only goal of the game that afternoon to inflict only our second defeat of the season at the time. It was our only defeat in 11 Championship matches during an excellent start to the season by the Royals. That really does feel like ancient history already with Reading now simply trying to maintain a mid-table position. A draw or better at Derby really would be a big confidence booster.

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