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Preview: Reading v Blues

It’s their last home game and they'll want to win that, so we have to be ready what's coming at us.

Garry Monk.

Our full match preview ahead of Sunday's Sky Bet Championship fixture against the Royals at the Madejski Stadium (12.30pm kick-off).

Garry Monk on wanting to see an improvement from his players on the performance they put in last time out in the home draw against Wigan...
"I didn't expect that performance, I expected us to perform better than we did. The positive was that we managed to take a point from the game, but we didn’t perform how we wanted to, and we'll get a chance to try and put that right on the weekend. These lads have been through a lot this season and given everything and we've pushed them to their limits, so I can't have too many complaints, but in terms of a standard we want to try and keep that up in these last 90 minutes."

Garry Monk on the way that Wes Harding and Marc Roberts performed in the centre of defence against the Latics in the absence of Michael Morrison and Harlee Dean...
"I actually thought the two of them performed well in the game and were very steady and solid and did the jobs that they needed to do. It's never easy when you're kind of patched up. Wes is a full-back, but he can play that role at centre-back. And it's not that easy for Robbo who has been out for a long time. Whenever you play your first 90 minutes no matter how much fitness work you do, it's always a shock to the system."

Garry Monk on the superb support that Blues fans have given the team on their travels...
"It's been brilliant. Since last season if you think about Bolton away, it set the standard. They've been right behind the team and travelled in real numbers. We've had some good moments and results away from home at some really tough places and I think they've really enjoyed themselves. The atmospheres they've created have been great. Sometimes they've taken over the ground in certain situations. That support has been incredible this season."

Garry Monk on what we expects from his side against Reading...
"Let's try and win the game, be organised defensively and try and be a threat offensively. The mindset is about what we do and not what the opposition do. We analyse them and give our players the details, but the biggest part is our game and if we can impose that on them. It's another difficult game and congratulations to Reading because they've got themselves safe. It’s their last home game and they'll want to win that, so we have to be ready what's coming at us."

Garry Monk asked how pleased he will be once the final whistle goes on Sunday...
"It's a bit different for a manager than a player because they get to go away. But it's important they're refreshed and ready for pre-season because there will be a step up on a lot of aspects that we need to do. My job is to have that plan ready for next season, which we've been going through as a staff, and the organisation of everything and what we're going to do as a Club moving forwards."

Reading Manager Jose Gomes' comments ahead of the game...
"The season will finish and then it’s about tough work and preparing for next season. We need to prepare for Sunday first though and try to finish the league with a positive energy. We want to show our fans good football and I really believe we can get this connection - positive energy going into the start of next season. Our players have been performing very well and hopefully we can give the fans the three points which they deserve. Birmingham are a tough team. When they were deducted nine points, they were close to the play-offs. They are a very strong team, direct football, tough players so it will be a difficult game."

Blues team news...
Harlee Dean (hernia) and Michael Morrison (ankle) will definitely miss out. Connor Mahoney  and Jacques Mghoma are back in contention for a start  after being unused substitutes in the draw against Wigan. Garry Monk has also revealed that one or two other players that have been carrying knocks will have late fitness tests.

Reading team news...
Former Blues loanee Tyler Blackett is doubtful because of a hamstring injury. Nelson Oliveira and Yakou Meite are out.

Last five meetings between Reading and Blues...
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
Championship 31 Jan 2017 Blues 0 Reading 1

Form guide - last five Championship fixtures....
Reading: DWDDL
Blues: DDDWD

Total meetings...
Reading wins: 13
Blues wins: 14
Draws: 11

Ticket news...
Blues have sold out of our full allocation of 2,219 tickets for this game.

BluesTV...
BluesTV will be broadcasting live to International subscribers. Audio commentary with Jonathan Bell and former Blues winger David Cotterill is also available to UK and Ireland subscribers. To subscribe to BluesTV, please click here.

Important message to supporters...
In light of recent events, the Club is urging 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 and never take it for granted. The scrutiny of the football world, the wider public and the authorities is on us and we urge everyone to rally together to project the correct and positive image of the Club. 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, under any circumstances. Think of the damage you may be doing to your Club and also the punishment you may incur personally. We are sure everyone is aware that the Football Association have powers to take serious action against the Club, which can include heavy fines and ground closure. The Club, as did others, recently received a written warning from the FA about missiles being thrown onto the pitch, at home and away games. 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 at this time. We continually review all our stewarding, safety and security measures home and away and we remain committed to making your experience following Blues a safe one and as pleasant as possible - but we also need YOUR help.
Thank you.

Match officials...
Keith Stroud will take charge of Sunday's game. So far this season, the Hampshire-based official has refereed 27 games where he has produced a total of 87 yellow cards and three reds. The last Blues game he refereed was our Championship home fixture against Rotherham United in October 2018 which Blues won 3-1. Rotherham's Joe Mattock was the only player from either side cautioned in that fixture. During his refereeing career to date, Mr Stroud has taken charge of 16 Blues matches - five of which Blues have won, five they have drawn and six they have lost. The last Reading game he took charge of was their Sky Bet Championship away fixture against Norwich City in April which ended in a 2-2 stalemate. Three Royals players received cautions in that game - Emiliano Martinez, Chris Gunter and Lewis Baker, but no Norwich players. In total, Mr Stroud has taken charge of 20 Reading games; with the Royals winning 11 of them, drawing two and losing seven. Mr Stroud will be assisted on Sunday by John Flynn and Matt Foley, with Tom Neild acting as the fourth official.

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