'If only Joao was available' - a Reading writer gives us the inside track on the Royals ahead of Sheffield Wednesday clash

Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to arrest their alarming slump when they welcome Mark Bowen’s Reading side to Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, 14th February 2020, 4:45 pm

Wednesday have not registered a Championship victory since their 2-0 win at Yorkshire rivals Leeds United on January 11 and have lost six league games since rising to third place at Christmas.

But they will come up against a Royals outfit also struggling for form.

They have not won a league game since a 2-1 victory at Fulham on New Year’s Day, a run which has coincided with former Wednesday frontman Lucas Joao being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

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But who are the players that make Reading tick and what should Garry Monk's men be on their guard against tomorrow?

We asked Reading writer Jonathan Low, of Berkshire Live, for the inside track on the Royals.

Who have been the stand out performers for Reading this season?

John Swift started the season very strongly but has tailed off in recent weeks.

Reading manager Mark Bowen. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

He has five goals and 11 assists to his name and is the main creative outlet for the side. Ovie Ejaria also started brightly but his impact has also waned.

Rafael has been solid throughout after joining last summer while Pele has been the stand-out player despite a slow start to his Royals career. He now really pulls the strings in midfield.

How big a blow is losing Chris Gunter to injury?

It is a blow but Andy Yiadom has just come back from injury so takes his place.

Yiadom is the first choice right back and offers more of an attacking threat.

It was just coincidence he came back at the same time as Gunter got injured.

Overall Yiadom is slightly better I would say.

Who are the main threats?

Swift and Ejaria as I mentioned earlier - if they are on their game they're a huge but it's a huge if at the moment.

When he plays Charlie Adam can pick a pass and unlock a defence, even though his mobility is not what it once was.

Yakou Meite is probably the biggest aerial threat.

Before his injury, how well had Lucas Joao settled at the Madejski?

He got off to a great start after his move, scoring two in two but then he dried up a bit.

He hit form, however, at the start of December and was a key part of why the side was so successful over the Christmas period.

His injury came just at the wrong time and they've been stuttering along ever since.

How big a disappointment has this season been for Reading supporters?

It's been a frustrating one but it certainly hasn't been as bad as previous seasons.

The feeling is they will be safe but they are starting to look nervously over their shoulders.

The change of manager created more instability and just when it looked like things were on the up at the turn of the year, they haven't kicked on which has been the big frustration.

Being in the last 16 of the FA Cup gives fans something to look forward to, though.

What style of football (or system) should Wednesday expect to come up against?

Tough one - Bowen has been chopping and changing and hasn't found the right one yet.

He played a 4-2-3-1 on Wednesday night but Reading came out in second best in most areas.

The players are pretty flexible and can play in various positions, but George Puscas is struggling to lead the line.

If only Joao was available!

With 14 games to go, what will Mark Bowen be looking to achieve for the remainder of the season?

Safety first and foremost. Get to 46 points (ish) and then whatever else is a bonus.

They've got Sheff Utd at home in the cup so if they have a good day they may make the quarter finals which would be nice.

Other than that it's about preparing for next season already and ensuring they have a strong summer to give themselves a decent chance of a successful season next year.