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Preview: Reading v Blues

We want to be a side that plays without fear of taking risks, fear of attacking. Because I'm convinced this is the way to score goals.

Pep Clotet.

Our full match preview ahead of Saturday's Sky Bet Championship fixture between Reading and Blues at the Madejski Stadium (3pm kick-off).

Blues Head Coach Pep Clotet on what sort of test he expects from Reading...
"I expect a very difficult game. It's always difficult for us there. The three strikers for me are in very good form. They play with very clear ideas. We will need to do a good job defensively, and offensively we need to be ourselves and take risks and believe that we can win. It's a solid team and they break well; they play wide as well and attack the box and when they don't have the ball, they pack the box so we will have to play quickly. We've had some very good performances away from home. Now it's another one and we need to put another step into our journey and fight from the beginning to the end for three points."

Pep Clotet on the need to turn Blues' recent draws into victories...
"I'm always convinced that this game is about the margins. There are a lot of very good signs in our side for example at Huddersfield we were losing, and we turned it and the same happened against Millwall when the game got very difficult, we turned it. I think we can all be a little bit tidier in our football. We are close to what we want to be. We want to be a side that plays without fear of taking risks, fear of attacking. Because I'm convinced this is the way to score goals. To know that you can take a risk and be a threat. It's very good to get one point when the option is one, but we want them to come in threes. After all the hard work that we've done and the fact that we are in position that we managed to have enough belief and enough confidence not to be in a relegation fight after so much time. It's a great opportunity for us to grow and to make sure it's on us to believe that we can win home and away."

Pep Clotet asked if he thought former Blues player Michael Morrison will have an extra motivation to win on Saturday...
"We know him well, we know he is a strong character, a good leader, probably that will give him motivation. Every time you play against a team you have played for, always try to use that to give you extra motivation. At the end of the day we know him well, we know he is going to be up for it, we know his strengths and his weaknesses as well. We will try to exploit that as well, so it goes both ways."

Reading Manager Mark Bowen's comments ahead of the game...
“It’s always been said that back-to-back wins in this league can really push you up the table – so it’s important to us. We have a run of six or seven games leading up until Christmas – we have started off well, in terms of getting the three points against Wigan. We can certainly play better, I know that, but we are taking the positives. And the things we want to work on, we will take into the game on Saturday. Birmingham are a difficult side to play against. We know that – they have big threats going forward with the strikers they’ve got, but the coach has got them well-organised and those pockets of space that we’re looking for will be a rarity so we’ll need to make sure our movement is good. The threat they have, not just in and around the box but from crosses as well, means that we’ll have to really concentrate and affect that as well. We’ve got a lot of work to do but we’ll give the boys some tactical information on Friday as well. I know the club well. I spent a few years there a while back and I know the demands that are put on the team by the crowd because they expect them to perform and give their all in every game. It's always a difficult game to play, they certainly have the threats."

Blues team news...
Central defender Marc Roberts is sidelined for several for at least a month after sustaining an ankle injury during the draw against Millwall. Midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld (knee) remains out. Gary Gardner is edging closer to a return after his knee injury, but will play a game for the Under-23s before being considered.

Reading team news...
Former Blues defender Michael Morrison is likely to start for The Royals. Ex- Blues loanee Tyler Blackett also plays for Reading, but he was an unused substitute in their last game. Jordan Obita and Ovie Ejaria are available after recovering from illness. John Swift will miss out because of a hamstring injury. Sam Baldock is back in full training and comes into consideration. Tom Mcintyre will miss out as he returns to full fitness. 

Last five meetings between Reading and Blues...
Championship 05 May 2019 Reading 0 Blues 0
Championship 23 Oct 2018 Blues 2 Reading 1
EFL Cup 14 Aug 2018 Reading 2 Blues 0
Championship 02 Jan 2018 Reading 0 Blues 2
Championship 26 Aug 2017 Blues 0 Reading 2

Total meetings between Reading and Blues...
Reading wins: 13
Draws: 12
Blues wins: 14

Form guide last five games...
Reading: WWLLW
Blues: LLDDD

Line-ups last league game...
Wigan Athletic v Reading (3-5-2): Rafael, Yiadom, Richards, Moore (c), Morrison (João 61), Miazga, Rinomhota, Pelé (Adam 77), McCleary, Méïté (Boyé 66), Pușcaș
Subs (not used): Walker, Gunter, Boyé, Loader, Blackett.

Blues (4-4-2) v Millwall: Trueman, Pedersen, Roberts (Dean, 26), Colin, Crowley, Jutkiewicz, Clarke-Salter, Villalba (Bela, 55), Bellingham, Gimenez (Montero, 65),Sunjic.
Subs (not used): Camp, McEachran, Maghoma, Davis.

BluesTV...
BluesTV will be streaming the match live to International Subscribers. Those in the Great Britain and Ireland can get exclusive audio commentary. Commentary will be provided by Dale Moon. For more details about BluesTV, click here.

Match officials...
Tim Robinson will take charge of Saturday's game at the Madejski Stadium. So far this season the West Sussex-based official has refereed 13 games, where he has produced a total of 41 yellow cards, one red, and awarded three penalties. The last Blues game he refereed was our Sky Bet Championship away fixture against Wigan Athletic in October. Blues lost that match 1-0 and Harlee Dean was the only player cautioned from either side. He has refereed 14 Blues game to date, five of which we have won, three we have drawn and six we have lost. The last Reading game he refereed was their Sky Bet Championship away fixture at Hull City in April 2019. Reading lost that match 3-1 there were five players cautioned; including Emiliano Martinez and Tyler Blackett for the visitors. He has refereed 10 Reading games to date, with The Royals winning four of them, drawing one and losing five. Mr Robinson will be assisted on Saturday by Ian Cooper and Robert Hyde, with Sam Lewis acting as the fourth official.

Tickets...
As of Thursday 5 December, Blues had sold 2,105 tickets sold from allocation of 2,219. The only tickets remaining for this game are located in the family area. These can only be purchased over the phone or in person from the ticket office until 112am for 11am on Friday 6 December. For prices click here.

Supporter message...
The Club urges all supporters to be responsible in their behaviour and actions. Birmingham City knows that the overwhelming majority of our supporters do not indulge in anti-social activities and are passionate about the players and the Club. We appreciate this. We adopt a zero-tolerance stance on anti-social behaviour and spectator misconduct. This includes - amongst other things - drunkenness, throwing of missiles and use and carrying of pyrotechnics (flares, smoke bombs), racist and/or homophobic chanting. Pitch encroachment is forbidden and against the law. Please DO NOT encroach onto the pitch. Any person found to be encroaching on the pitch will automatically be served with a banning order - regardless of the circumstances. It is important that bottles, coins, flares and other items not thrown at our matches. Again, we would like to thank the overwhelming majority of supporters for their backing and their understanding.

Message from Reading FC safety team to Blues supporters...
Reading FC welcome Birmingham City fans to the Madejski Stadium this Saturday and you will be seated in the Red/South Stand.  Can we just remind our visitors that it is an all-seater stadium. However we understand that in times of excitement that fans will want to stand up and celebrate or offer support to their team. Please be aware that we are very keen on keeping the gangways clear as the rake on the away stand is steep and we wish to minimise the chance of someone falling down and injuring themselves of fellow fans. The clear gangway policy is enforced the whole way around the stadium as we treat all fans the same and fairly.
We provide a family area for away fans just behind the wheelchair area and also other fans who wish to sit can do so in front of the wheelchair and ambulant disabled area.This means that those away fans who are unable to stand or do not wish to stand for long periods do not have their views blocked. The seating is reserved and we have customer service staff and  who will be on hand to assist you and answer any questions that you may have. Also, a reminder that if you do not have a ticket for the away end please do not purchase in the home area as anyone who is outed is sadly likely to be asked to leave.

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