Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Friday January 13 2012
WATFORD HOST Brian McDermott's Reading this Saturday at 5.20pm, live on Sky.
The Royals are currently sat in the Play-Offs in fifth place after an up-and-down first half of the season.
The Berkshire-based outfit finished fifth in the Championship last season so another similarly-placed finish would go down nicely.
McDermott has enjoyed a good start to his managerial career, overseeing 51 wins from his 113 games as Royals boss with just 29 defeats thrown in.
Reading have immediately sprung into action following a quiet summer transfer window by treading the well-worn path to the Irish League.
Having seen Kevin Doyle, David Mooney and Shane Long arrived at the Madejski from the Emerald Isle, Karl Sheppard has followed that career path, joining from Shamrock Rovers. Sheppard was believed to be a Hornet's target before his move.
The summer transfer window was harsh to the Royals, as they lost key men in Matt Mills and the aforementioned Long. However, McDermott was quick to replace the duo.
Latvian international Kaspars Gorkss arrived from Queens Park Rangers late in the transfer window and has quickly made himself a regular.
The former Blackpool and Ventspils defender has already made 21 league starts for his new club, immediately sidelining McDermott's other defensive signing of the summer, Spurs' loanee, Bongani Khumalo.
Up front, former Rochdale and Rotherham hot-shot Adam Le Fondre was snapped up for roughly £300,000.
The 25 year-old forward made his Reading bow in a 2-0 defeat to the Hornets earlier in the campaign and has since gone on to nab five league goals from his first 16 starts.
An overall career record of 115 from 202 in the league suggests that the Stockport-born forward will prove a success at this level.
In midfield, the Royals have two of the league's most dangerous wide options in skipper and former Watford man, Jobi McAnuff as well as Mali international Jimmy Kebe.
Kebe, 27, is highly-sought after by a number of clubs with some suitors believed to be from the Premier League. The gangly former Lens trainee is out of contract in the summer but unfortunately for the Royals, he shows little sign of putting pen-to-paper which could well force McDermott's hand this month.
Reading were without Kebe (knee) and Noel Hunt (ankle), for their F.A Cup 3rd round clash with Stevenage so the duo look doubtful for the trip to Vicarage Road. Another former 'Orn in Brynjar Gunarsson is back from injury though.
Sean Dyche has Scott Loach back from a one-game suspension whilst Nyron Nosworthy has of course signed permanently and should partner Adrian Mariappa once more.
With Michael Kightly now back at Wolves it falls to Craig Forsyth to step up and fill the winger's boots on the left.
John Eustace turned in an excellent display against Bradford and could be knocking on the door for a first-team return.
Watford: Loach; Hodson, Mariappa, Nosworthy, Dickinson; Yeates, Eustace (c), Hogg, Forsyth; Deeney & Sordell.
Reading: Federici; Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte; McAnuff (c), Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu; Church & Le Fondre.
Match Officials: (R) Mr G Salisbury;(AR's) Mr L Swabey & Mr M Bounassisi; (4th) Mr P Miller.
Date:Friday January 13 2012
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