Preview: Blues v Reading

We need to remember if we win and we reach 50 points for us it is capital because it is not easy to reach 50 points in the Championship.

Pep Clotet.

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

Pep Clotet on what he wants his players to take from their performance against Leicester City in the FA Cup...
"Apart from a couple of moments in the game when they were really putting a lot of stress on us, I think the team coped with it very well. Of course, we lacked the ability and the power to think we could compete toe-to-toe against them but that  is the same when I saw all the Championship sides against the Premier League sides because the gap is massive. The gap between the Championship and the Premier League is probably the biggest in football, I don’t see that between League One and the Championship or League Two and League One – and you do appreciate it against a team as good as Leicester. We are proud of what we did, we want to carry on. All this year we have been developing a lot as a team and you saw a team
that was the result of all the work we have done this season. When we have made a mistake, we have corrected it this season and slowly we have improved and got to a point that we are competing very well. We want to keep adding to ourselves and take things into next season, yesterday was an important test for us and I am proud of what the players did on the pitch."

Pep Clotet on what he wants to see from the remaining ten Championship games...
"We want to get ourselves to a position where it is clear how we need to improve next season, that is clear what we need to tweak and adding and improving. Those ten games are very important to us, starting game-by-game on Saturday. When it comes to our position in the league, I feel pride when it comes to think about it because we picked 18 points out of the last ten matches and only Fulham picked up 21 – more than us. It is a very good position and very good work, but we stick to the mentality of one-game-at-a-time, Reading and competing for the three points."

Pep Clotet on what sort of challenge he expects from Reading...
"It is a team that has experience in certain areas, especially at the back, quality in the middle and dangerous options up front. They have physicality and speed up front as well as talent. I think it is going to be a very competitive game, we need to keep competing the way we have been doing. Keep being with the mentality we have, when we have the ball and attack, we want to go forward, we are valuing attacks more than the possession number. It’s important for us to play forward and put as much as possible stress to them – and when we don’t have the ball make sure we contain all those strengths that they have."

Pep Clotet on how Saturday's game at home is a good opportunity to get back on the winning trail...
"We have had to play a lot of very tough games at home in February, we won against Forest and we drew with Brentford and Sheffield Wednesday, all of them became very difficult games. It’s a new month and we need to keep building and think about the three points – the same as any game. But at the same time, we need to remember if we win and we reach 50 points for us it is capital because it is not easy to reach 50 points in the Championship. We will only be two points from the final result last season – with everything that happened – and still a lot of games to come. We are ambitious and we want to keep progressing, competing, the team is in a very good spirt, having a very good moment with each other, all proud of what each other is doing and despite we have played so many games we look forward to the next one."

Reading manager Mark Bowen's comments ahead of the game...
"This weekend’s game against Birmingham away from home to me and all the team is just as important as the game in midweek (in the FA Cup against Sheffield United). We just must make sure we recover well, and are both mentally and physically well, and get some points out of the game. It’s very easy to go into Saturday’s game, patting yourself on the back and looking over your shoulder and saying, 'we’re a good side'. But we must prove it on Saturday. And that’s the hardest  thing about this league, you’ve got the physical side of things but it’s the mental stuff, that as an individual and as a team we must be ready to go again and go again. Players are chomping at the bit to get on the field, but that can only be a
positive for us. It will also be important to take all the positives from the game against Sheffield United into the game against Birmingham and turn them into actions."

Blues team news...
Jude Bellingham is back in contention having been rested for the FA Cup fifth round tie at Leicester on Wednesday. Jeremie Bela (hamstring), Jacques Maghoma (thigh) and Josh McEachran (ACL) will be missing.

Reading team news...
Former Blues defender Michael Morrison is likely to play at St. Andrew's on Saturday for the first time since joining The Royals last summer. Ex-Blues loanee Tyler Blackett could also play some part.

Last five meetings between Blues and Reading...
Championship 07 Dec 2019 Reading 2 Blues 3
Championship 05 May 2019 Reading 0 Blues 0
Championship 23 Oct 2018 Blues 2 Reading 1
EFL Cup14 Aug 2018 Reading 2 Blues 0
Championship 02 Jan 2018 Reading 0 Blues 2

Total meetings between Blues and Reading...
Blues wins: 15
Draws: 12
Blues wins: 13

Form guide last five games...
Blues: DDDDL
Reading: WLLWD

Line-ups last game...
Leicester v Blues: Camp, Colin, Pedersen, Dean, Clarke-Salter, Harding (Gary Gardner 71), Kieftenbeld (Montero 84), Sunjic, Mrabti (Crowley 84), Jutkiewicz, Hogan
Subs (not used): Trueman, Roberts, Boyd-Munce, Burke.

Reading v Sheffield United: Rafael, Yiadom, Morrison (c), Miazga, Obita, Rinomhota (Baldock 106), Swift, Ejaria (Pelé 98), Olise (Masika 98), Méïté (McCleary 106), Puscas.
Subs (not used): Walker, Moore, Blackett.

International Blues TV subscribers will be able to watch this game live. Commentary will be provided by Jonathan Bell and former Blues striker Dele Adebola. For details about BluesTV, click here.

Match officials...
Referee Andy Davies will take charge of the game. So far this season the Hampshire-based official has refereed 27 games, where he has produced a total of 92 yellow cards, three reds and awarded nine penalties. The last Blues game he refereed was our Sky Bet Championship home fixture against Cardiff in January. Blues drew that match 1-1 and there were four players cautioned in total; including Gary Gardner for the hosts. He has refereed nine Blues games overall, with Blues winning three of them, drawing two, and losing four. The last Reading game he refereed was their Sky Bet Championship home game against Cardiff City in August 2019. Reading won that game 3-0 and there were three players cautioned; including Liam Moore for The Royals. He has refereed 15 Reading games to date, with The Royals winning six of them, drawing two and losing six. Mr Davies will be assisted on Saturday by Daniel Leach and Sam Lewis with Mark Pottage acting as the fourth

Tickets for this game are on general sale. For prices and purchasing details 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.