FA Cup Preview: Derby County - Reading
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Derby County and Reading will put the Sky Bet Championship to one side for a weekend as the two sides look to progress past the FA Cup Fifth Round on Saturday.

The hosts are among the favourites for promotion from English football's second tier and currently occupy third place in the Championship table, while the Royals are languishing in 14th position before they go head-to-head in the FA Cup clash.

Derby midfielder George Thorne has recovered from a knee injury, and could be in line to make his first appearance of the season. However, 19-goal Scottish forward Chris Martin is unavailable due to a knee problem.

For the visitors, midfielder Danny Guthrie has recovered from a groin injury and will return to the match squad.  Veteran Nigerian striker Yakubu, who joined the club in January, is has been passed fit to play despite breaking his nose during his side's 2-0 home defeat to Leeds in midweek.

The Rams are unbeaten in the last three encounters between these sides, winning two and drawing one without conceding. Reading's last triumph in this fixture came back in September 2013, when a double from Pavel Pogrebnyak helped them on their way to a 3-1 win at Pride Park.

Despite their contrasting league positions, both sides are in good form in recent weeks. Derby recorded four straight victories before a 2-2 draw against fellow promotion hopefuls Bournemouth on Tuesday, while Reading have three wins in their last five in all competitions.

Derby boss Steve McClaren does not appear fazed by the prospect of fixture congestion posed by a potential FA Cup run.

“We want to win the game, it’s the FA Cup and there’s a place in the Quarter Finals up for grabs,” he told the club's website. 

“We know about Reading as we’ve faced the a few times this season, but they’re a different animal now under Steve Clarke.

“They have good players but it is about what we do; we’re at home and it will be a tough game.

We like the cups, they've been good to us and we want to get into the quarter-finals."

Meanwhile, following the exploits of Bradford City and Middlesbrough in the previous round, Reading's Steve Clarke is hopeful that his side can spring a minor upset against in-form Derby.

"The players are up for it, and the manager is up for it as well so we look forward to going there and having a right go at them and trying to progress," he enthused.

"We’re certainly one of the underdogs. It’s been a cup of shocks so far this season, and if we went to Derby and win it would be classed as a small shock.” 

Match referee Craig Pawson has not officiated over either of these sides so far this season, but has shown 72 yellow and eight red cards in 22 games this season, including two of each in the previous round as Blackburn beat Swansea at Ewood Park.

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