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No Easy Start for Town at Reading
Friday, 2nd Aug 2013 13:33

Mick McCarthy admits that facing Reading at the Madejski Stadium is a tough way to start his first full season as Town boss. The Blues go into the opening game of the campaign with injury concerns regarding Aaron Cresswell, Luke Hyam and Anthony Wordsworth.

As widely quoted, had last season started when McCarthy took over on November 1st, the Blues would have been sixth. The Town boss says Saturday's game the relegated Royals will be no pushovers as he looks for his side to emulate that form during the campaign ahead.

“We’ll see. It’s a proper start for us to find out," he said. "It’s a tough game. I reckon Reading could put two Championship teams out comfortably with the squad that they’ve got, two good ones.

“And they’ve got a good manager in Nigel Adkins because he’s proved that with Scunthorpe first and then Southampton.

“That’s a really tough start for us but whatever happens there is not going to have a bearing on the next 45 games because we might go there and win and who knows what happens after that?

“Can we challenge? I’d like to think so. That’s what we’re aiming for. Let’s start with that and if we aim at the top six, that would be a good place to be for us.”

The Blues were unbeaten throughout pre-season, although it was particular displays which pleased their manager: “I was delighted with pre-season, not about the games and the results, it’s still nice to win them, but if you lose them you come away saying they don’t matter, so if you win them it doesn’t matter either. But it’s still better to win them.

"I thought we played well in them, certain parts of games. At Colchester I thought we were excellent and in the first half at Notts County we should have been home and hosed but we had to make changes and we got injuries.

“Performances were good and you can see the team playing in the way I wanted them to play in that shape and that system and understanding it, so that was pleasing.

“And we didn’t get any injuries up until the last knockings, which is disappointing, but that’s what you have a squad for.”

Strikers Daryl Murphy and David McGoldrick were probably the standout performers during pre-season, scoring five and four goals respectively.

“I think they’ve been excellent, the two of them," McCarthy said. "They’ve both come back looking very fit and very sharp and from 24th June when we came back they’ve been right bang at it.

“They’ve got some healthy competition with Big Frank and Paul Taylor, who is training fully now. He’s more than capable of being involved.

“Whether he could do 90 minutes there would be room for discussion there, he’s been out for 11 months, but he’s certainly at full tilt and playing no problem.”

McCarthy’s first choice XI is likely to be the side which started at Notts County. Scott Loach in goal, Elliott Hewitt at right-back, Tommy Smith and Luke Chambers - who will probably wear the armband - at the centre of the defence and Aaron Cresswell at left-back.

Cresswell is a doubt with a thigh problem and if he doesn’t make it Tyrone Mings will make his second senior start. The former Chippenham man was complaining of tonsillitis on Thursday but McCarthy was confident that the 20-year-old would be fine.

In central midfield, Luke Hyam is also a doubt with a groin problem but seems likely to start alongside Cole Skuse.

New loan signing from Manchester United Ryan Tunnicliffe would appear to be Hyam’s most likely replacement should he not make it with Anthony Wordsworth another doubt with the calf problem he suffered within minutes of coming on at half-time at Meadow Lane last week.

Jay Tabb will be on the left and Paul Anderson on the right, while McGoldrick will partner Murphy up front.

McCarthy has decisions to make amongst his subs but Taylor seems likely to be amongst the 18 having returned to full training and after scoring a stunning freekick at Notts County.

Reading manager Nigel Adkins is determined that his side bounces back into the top flight at the first attempt: “We don’t want to be mid-table, we want to be back in the Premier League.

“That’s what we want. That has to be the ambition, that has to be the drive. You want to be at the top. The pressures being at the top are far better than the pressure of being at the bottom.”

He says Royals supporters need to make more noise than the 2,700 travelling Blues: “I believe there will be approaching 20,000 people there, it’ll be about 23 degrees and a nice day for people to come out.

“If we, on the pitch, can give them something to cheer about then I’m sure they can make a noise and outsing the 3,000 Ipswich supporters.

“We need to win. People pay hard earned cash to watch a game of football – they want to be entertained, they want an atmosphere – that’s what our desire and drive is.

“The opposition won’t want that, they’ll want to make sure we don’t have the football. If it works for us great, if it doesn’t it won’t be through the lack of trying.”

Adkins will be without Reading striker Nick Blackman, who is banned for one game for an incident involving a steward, which took place while he was a Sheffield United player in September last year.

Striker Jason Roberts is out having undergone hip surgery, while winger Jimmy Kebe is a doubt with a groin problem. Hal Robson-Kanu is fit after having had stitches to his knee earlier in the summer.

Town have just about had the better of the Royals historically, winning 22 times (21 in the league), drawing nine (nine) and losing 18 (18).

Reading haven’t won on the opening day of the season since 2006 and lost their last three pre-season friendlies. Their only home goal since Jimmy Kebe scored twice in a 2-1 victory over Sunderland on February 2nd was an own goal by Aston Villa’s Nathan Baker during a 2-1 defeat at the Madejski Stadium in March.

The Berkshire club won their most recent four games against Town, the last two in their Championship-winning 2011/12 campaign.

In the December at the Madejski Stadium, Alex Pearce’s second-half goal condemned the Blues to a 1-0 defeat.

The loss was harsh on Town who were the better side in the first half of a tight game during which Jay Emmanuel-Thomas hit the bar from distance.

Just over a month earlier at Portman Road, Town snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the closing moments for a second successive week as Reading left Suffolk with a 3-2 win.

Daryl Murphy opened the scoring 11 minutes after the break, Kaspars Gorkss equalised for the Royals before Josh Carson’s deflected shot put the Blues back in front.

Town looked to have won it but Alex Pearce and Noel Hunt netted at the death to see the Blues to a third 3-2 defeat on the trot for the first time in their history.

Jay Tabb joined the Blues this summer having been released by the Royals at the end of last season after four and a half years at the Madejski Stadium, while Reading keeper Alex McCarthy spent time on loan at Portman Road during 2011/12, making 10 appearances.

Saturday’s referee is David Coote from Nottinghamshire, who last season showed 96 yellow cards and four red in 32 games.

Coote’s most recent Town match was the 3-0 home victory over Millwall last December in which he booked two Lions and, perhaps inevitably, Lee Martin.

TWTD's Prediction League starts on Saturday with full details of that and a number of fantasy leagues run by TWTD Message Boarders here.

Squad from: Loach, Gerken, Hewitt, Veseli, Cresswell, Mings, Smith, Chambers, Berra, Skuse, Hyam, Tunnicliffe, Wordsworth, Anderson, Edwards, Tabb, McGoldrick, Murphy, Nouble, Taylor.


Photo: Action Images



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Stourbridgeblue added 14:00 - Aug 2
"perhaps inevitably, Lee Martin." LOL.
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murraybrunning added 14:07 - Aug 2
Tough start but under MM we are hard to beat- WE FEAR NOBODY!!!! COYB
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ManningtreeBlue99 added 14:17 - Aug 2
I remember that 3-2 defeat, it was like having your heart wrenched out before having your teeth plucked out one by one and fed to dogs. Anyway, I predict a 2-1 win to town! COYB
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Ebantiass added 14:17 - Aug 2
Come on you blues lets have agood start. I´d be pleased th a point at Reading and delighted with all three.
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ManningtreeBlue99 added 14:21 - Aug 2
And does anyone know for definite whether Cresswell is likely to play, he's in my fantasy football team and if he doesn't play I get no points, you see.
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Portman_Temple added 14:22 - Aug 2
Are we sure Edwards wont play?
Who skippers? Chambers?
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RichmondBlue added 14:22 - Aug 2
Just put the effort in, thats all you can ask for with this fixture (and hope for a little luck).
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floridaboy added 15:05 - Aug 2
Edwards surely cannot be guaranteed a starting place now. MM has got to look at a younger 11.

Edwards off the bench is a better option

Chambers or Smith for captain IMHO
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arc added 15:07 - Aug 2
No prediction on the wide midfielders, Phil? I assume Tabb on the left, but will it be Edwards or Anderson on the right? My guess would be Edwards, but I imagine they are going to split time there this season.
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PhilTWTD added 15:44 - Aug 2
Sorry, meant to mention Tabb and Anderson as per last week as well. Added. Chambers will probably be captain as well.
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PortmanTerrorist added 15:51 - Aug 2
Probably says something about the optimism for the new season that the captain's armband has not come up as a major issue. Chambers had it whenever on the pitch in pre-season and should now be the man. Carlos has major role to play still, but Chambers is proper, old school, MM-style, leader on the pitch.
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Letchworth_Blue added 19:28 - Aug 2
Floridaboy, Edwards was one of our best players last season, and nothing that has happened in pre-season has changed that. I'll be cheering on whoever plays tomorrow with the rest of the 2700. COYB!!!!!!
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chevvymalc added 20:31 - Aug 2
They sound like they have selection problems too with suspensions and injuries and they are a championship side now not a premiership side they were not good enough to stay there. Whatever the outcome i will look forward to seeing us hopefully carrying on last years latter form.
Has anyone heard if we have a new pre-kick off rallying song lined up if not how about some ideas. Will be singing at Reading with the 2699 Tractor Boys tomorrow.
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Robbie12345 added 21:27 - Aug 2
Bit dissapointed no Marriott, hope Micky loans him out to league 2 to gain some experience if not in the first team squad :)
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TimmyH added 21:43 - Aug 2
Happy with a draw - we'll see what Anderson is made of as I feel it's important to get a creative player attacking wise, not sure who else will be that creative. c'mon the Town!
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jonwillpott added 21:46 - Aug 2
Can someone advise which pub is for away supporters in Reading and where to find this please....thanks!!!
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MitchtheITFCman added 21:56 - Aug 2
We are all behind you. If u are going to the game make sure they know you are there. We need to get Portman Road rocking next season if we stand a chance of going up. COYB
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IvorFeeling added 22:47 - Aug 2
OK this looks tough on paper but the more I look at the more I am inclined to think that this Town squad is the best we have had for some time and we will definatley be contenders for the playoffs and dare I hope even more.

Stated several times over the past few seasons you can profit from what you know and decent money was to be had by laying Town. This squad under MM is an altogether different proposition. In fact the whole club has a very positive vibe which is very powerful.This time round I believe that this will be a rare occasion this term when we will be priced up as 3/1 or better and although a draw is likely the odds dictate that we are a cracking win bet at the odds. Getting off to a good start in the first 5 games will also see the odds of us winning the league shorten so a bet at 20/1 which we can then trade out is also suggested.

Dare to dream and sometimes dreams come true.....COYB
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Ebantiass added 23:46 - Aug 2
Hi Letchworth Blue I was born in Letchworth small world eh!!! BLUE ARMY
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casanovacrow added 01:43 - Aug 3
It feel's strange to start the season feeling positive, especially against the likes of Reading away as the first match.

The main disruptive players gone, a balanced team and squad, hope with the youth.

COYB!
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flashblue added 05:10 - Aug 3
The key for me is Loach. I just have this feeling he is going to lose us the points all by himself - a parry to one of their forwards amd then in! Please prove me wrong!
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ManningtreeBlue99 added 05:12 - Aug 3
Jonwillpot- the three guineas pub situated outside Reading station is the one, a shuttle bus runs from here to the Madjeski for like £3
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alexsmith111 added 08:52 - Aug 3
We have some decent striker this year. All we need is a moment of brilliance from one of them and we can nick a win here
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Steve_ITFC_Sweden added 09:18 - Aug 3
Keep singing! Even if we are losing. COYB!
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itfc_4ever added 11:25 - Aug 3
Does anyone know if you can watch game on Internet
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