Preston vs Reading Match Preview: Royals look to claim major scalp up North
Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images

Reading travel up North to face Preston in the  EFL Championship.

Mark Bowen's side will be looking to make it five unbeaten in the League, but know they face the daunting task of not losing to play off chasing Preston. 

Last Time Out

Both sides were in action on Boxing Day and looked set to win their respective games till late on in the matches.

Preston led 1-0 at Elland Road and conceded in the 90th minute courtesy of a late strike from Stuart Dallas.

Most of that story applied to Reading who led 1-0 against Queens Park Rangers, but the Royals somehow held on to take all three points at the Madejski Stadium thanks to outstanding performances from John Swift and Rafael Cabral. 

Team News

Preston don't have any major injury concerns, other than the fact that long term absentee Louis Moult is still out injured. Patrick Bauer is a doubt after missing out on Boxing Day with illness. Daniel Johnson is also doubtful.

Andy Yiadom and George Puscas are both still out nursing their respective injuries.

John Swift returned to starting line up on boxing day , so may not start this game as Bowen may want to ease him back in slowly. The 24-year-old also appeared to hobble off the pitch when subbed so will be a slight doubt to start this match. 

Sam Baldock is out with a groin injury, but is expected to be back sooner rather than later according to Bowen. 

Predicted starting XI's

Preston North End: Rudd; Hughes, Davies, Huntington, Clarke; Browne, Pearson; Barkhuizen, Potts, Maguire; Nugent. 

Reading: Rafael; Gunter, Morrison, Moore, Obita; Rinomhota, Adam, Ejaria; Boye, Meite, Joao. 

Manager Comments

Preston North End manager Alex Neil is determined to turn his sides form around against Reading. A side which they have struggled against in recent fixtures. 

“On their day they are a dangerous team, they had a great result against QPR last night," Neil said in his press conference. "We don’t have a particularly good record against them so that’s something I’m looking to change.”

Reading manager Mark Bowen recognises that his team could give Preston a real match if they are fully focused.

He said: "We have two difficult away games now though and we'll have bumps along the way, but if we focus and do the right things we'll be a match for any team."

Head to Head record

These two sides match each other in terms of head to head record. Both sides have won 24 matches against in games between the two.

There has also been 12 draws between these two sides.

Interestingly enough, Reading have won the last four meetings between the pair. 

Last Meeting between these two sides

The first meeting this season came midway through October in Mark Bowen's first game encharge are Reading manager.

An injury time Matt Miazga strike earned the Royals a precious three points at the Madejski Stadium to kickstart the Mark Bowen era. They won 1-0 on this occasion. 

Here is the goal which won the game: 

Key Player to watch out for on both sides

Preston: Tom Barkhuizen

The 26-year-old has a brilliant record against Reading and could cause the Royals more problems this upcoming Sunday.

The English attacker is the second top scorer and has the second most assists behind Daniel Johnson. 

The winger has five goals and three assists so far this season in the Championship.

He will be looking to add to that tally when Reading come to town this weekend.

Reading: Rafael Cabral

Cabral's brilliant form has merited the unusual selection of a goalkeeper as the player to watch.

The Brazilian has been pivotal in Reading's mini unbeaten run, keeping three consecutive clean sheets on the bounce, and he will be looking to make it four at the weekend.

The ex Napoli keeper made two heroic saves to deny Jordan Hugil on two separate occasions on Boxing Day.