Reading FC will be hoping to regain ground on the automatic promotion places after putting an end to five games without a win as they prepare to face Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on Wednesday 2 December.
The Royals were the early front runners at the top of the table before going on a run of four successive losses, which they ended with a 1-1 draw against Millwall before rediscovering their winning formula with an impressive 3-1 victory over Bristol City in the lunchtime kick-off on Saturday.
At the other end of the division, Sheffield Wednesday remain in 23rd and stay winless under new boss Tony Pulis, who has two draws and one defeat from his opening three games in charge of the Owls.
The Owls’ injuries and suspension have been a big hindrance to their progression this year.
Josh Windass serves the third and final game of his three-match ban after picking up a red card 18 minutes into Pulis’ opening game in charge against Preston North End. His red card was the club's fourth in seven games.
On the injury front, Wednesday will be without Jack Marriott, Dominic Iorfa, Aden Flint and Keiren Westwood for the visit of Reading. Chey Dunkley remains a doubt, though, he has made a return to training but is carefully being eased into the first-team picture after a double leg-break sustained in February against the Royals.
Reading are without George Puscas, who picked up a hernia injury whilst on international duty with Romania last month, as well as Andy Yiadom and Felipe Araruna, who are both out with knee injuries.
A big bonus to the Royals will be the news that pair Yakou Meite and former Owl Lucas Joao will be fit enough to play on Wednesday night after precautionary treatment in the lead up to this fixture.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-5-1):
Wildsmith; Palmer, Lees, Börner, van Aken; Harris, Bannan, Luongo, Brown, Reach; Paterson.
Reading FC (4-2-3-1):
Rafael; Holmes, Morrison, Moore, Richards; Rinomhota, Laurent; Meite, Olise, Ejaria; Joao.
Sheffield Wednesday have won just once in their last nine games and sit 23rd in the Championship after 13 outings.
Should Pulis’ side win on Wednesday at Hillsborough, it will only be their third home victory in the whole of 2020.
Reading began the season in red hot form, winning seven of their opening eight games – drawing the other – before they suffered their first defeat of the season against Coventry City. This seemed to knock their confidence as they then lost the next three fixtures before ending that torrid run with a 1-1 draw with Millwall.
Ones to watch
Sheffield Wednesday – Julian Börner
The German has performed remarkably well since his reintroduction to the side after being used sporadically under Garry Monk.
Julian Börner has assisted the Owls in keeping three clean sheets in their last five fixtures, conceding just twice over that period.
The 29-year-old makes an average of 1.6 tackles and 1.8 interceptions per game and he is a passionate figure in Wednesday’s backline, which will make him a popular figure under Pulis.
Börner will need to maintain his form – putting in a 7.08 rating this season according to WhoScored.com – to stay in the first-team picture when Iorfa and Dunkley return from injury.
Reading FC – Lucas Joao
Forward Joao is in excellent form this campaign, netting nine goals in 13 league games in his second most prolific campaign in the Championship.
This will be his first appearance against Wednesday at Hillsborough – missing their last meeting due to injury and scoring for the Owls against Reading in the fixture before – since making the move to Reading from the Owls last season.
Joao is taking a career-best 2.5 shots per game and make an average of 1.2 key passes per games, which has helped the Portuguese register four assists.
With 13 goal involvements in as many games, Joao is Reading’s biggest goal threat and a large reason as to why they find themselves in the promotion hunt this season.
He possesses great strength and pace up front, having a clinical finish to match his assets. Joao showed a lot of promise when he was with the Owls, however, his move to the Royals has allowed him to flourish as the focal point to Reading’s attack.
Last time they met
The Owls suffered a heavy defeat the last time these two sides met at Hillsborough back at the start of February.
Reading took an early lead when Ovie Ejaria teed up Meite to open the scoring for the visitors in the first half before Osaze Urhoghide was sent off in his third appearance for the club.
In the second period, Puscas tapped in from a Yiadom set-up, with Sam Baldock wrapping up a 3-0 win with a penalty in the last minute.
What the managers have said
Defender Börner believes that Wednesday must make Hillsborough a fortress.
“It’ll be a tough job, but we’re at home,” said Börner in his post-match press conference against Stoke.
“At home, we don’t want people taking points here, that’s the next step for us - the target for the future.
“Hillsborough is our home, we need points and that is the main thing – I hope Wednesday we can pick up three points.
“We have been strong at the back. We have not been losing and this is good, a positive thing but we need goals.
“That responsibility is with us all, from the back, defenders, midfielders and strikers; it has been a period where we haven’t scored enough.
“But, we are one team, we are defending well but when we have chances in the game we have to score and Wednesday is the next chance.”
Reading manager Veljko Paunovic is fully focused on his side’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow night after an impressive display against Bristol City.
"The win and the performance at the weekend felt fantastic, and we could enjoy it for one day,” said Paunovic, speaking to the Reading website.
"We are pleased to get the winning feeling back, but our goal is to build a new momentum in these next couple of games.
"Our supporters are due back on Saturday, so we can have a whole enthusiastic approach, an all-round enthusiastic situation with our home game against Forest.
"But, most importantly, before that we have to prepare for a game against Sheffield Wednesday.
"Another tough opponent, another tough game on the road. We will learn from the last game because we can always improve, and we will use Wednesday night as another good opportunity to build our new momentum.
"We always aim to win every single game, but we also take it one game at a time - and building that momentum will depend on how well we do in our approach towards every single opponent in the next six or seven games we face coming up to a short Christmas break.
"The progression is good; we had a great start, building the identity, the foundations of the team – the non-negotiables have always been there from the start which I'm very proud of.
"The next two games are super important for our momentum. We are getting there but we stay with our feet on the ground because we still have to improve a lot."
Where to watch
The game on Wednesday night will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football.