We are looking over our shoulders concedes Mick as high flying Reading arrive at Town
Mick McCarthy is looking for Town to bounce back from Tuesday’s defeat by Derby against another promotion contender at the weekend.
Reading arrive at Portman Road, third in the Championship table and chasing down the front two and Blues’ boss is fully aware of the task in hand and what his side have to improve on.
“We are not in the habit of scoring threes and fours so it’s always going to be an uphill battle if we defend as we did against Derby,” said Mick.
“We need to put that right and get back to what we do best - being hard to beat, being resolute.
“I know some supporters don’t want to hear that but that needs to be the starting point for us. When we show those attributes, we tend to win football matches and that’s what we have to do now, start winning football matches again.
“I’m optimistic but I’m realistic as well and given the form we are in at the moment, we are looking over our shoulders at the teams below us in the table rather than the other end. We have to be, especially with the run of games we have got coming up.
“Reading are a good side and in good form. We know it will be a big challenge but we will be ready for it.”
Tom Lawrence is a concern for Town after being forced off at half-time in the defeat by Derby with an ankle injury. He is rated at 50/50. Teddy Bishop played 90 minutes for the U23s at the start of the week and is fit for selection after being sidelined with ankle ligament damage for a month. New loan signing Dominic Samuel won’t feature against his parent club. Jonny Williams [shoulder], Giles Coke, Luke Hyam [both knee], Tommy Smith [back], and Myles Kenlock [calf] all remain out.
Paul McShane is close to recovering from a calf injury but defender Joey van den Berg is out for four weeks with a hamstring tear. New loan signings Jordan Mutch, Reece Oxford and Lewis Grabban are all available for selection.
Where we stand
Last time we met
The Sky cameras were at the Madejski Stadium back in September and the pundits had plenty to talk about on the final whistle. Three penalties were awarded, all looked very harsh and Mick McCarthy was adamant that not one of them should have been given. Garath McCleary converted the first for the Royals, Brett Pitman responded for Town and it looked as though it would be honours even until Jonas Knudsen was judged to have pulled an opponent back at a corner and Danny Williams gave the hosts three points in added on time.
His mind would have been all over the place when Forest made a move to take him back to the City Ground on transfer deadline day. Town stood firm and the skipper showed his professionalism as one of the standout players in a bitterly disappointing defeat by Derby on Tuesday. He will be key again in the middle of defence against a Reading side full of confidence.
The England U21 international midfielder came through the youth ranks at Chelsea and made his professional debut for the Blues, aged 18, in May 2014. He enjoyed loan spells at Rotherham and Swindon the following season, helping the latter reach the League One Play-Off final. He then joined up with Brentford for the 2015/16 campaign before a permanent switch to Reading last summer. Playing just off the front man, he has grabbed six goals this season and has a number of assists.
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Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Assistant referees: Darren Blunden & Daniel Leach