Having finished nearer the bottom than the top of the Sky Bet Championship in five of the last six seasons, coming into the campaign with just two wins in nine games post lockdown, and with a rookie EFL manager installed just seven days before the start of the season, it's fair to say not many Reading fans would have predicted just how well the opening months of the season have gone in Berkshire.
However, Veljko Paunović's side continue to put in the performances, and pick up the results, that show they rightly deserve the place in the top six they have held since the opening day.
The Royals won seven of their first eight before a four game losing spell around the November international break threatened to undo all that good early work. That wasn't to be the case with 11 points from seven games since then keeping Reading in the leading pack.
Only Blackburn Rovers and AFC Bournemouth have scored more than Reading this season but, on the flip side, nobody in the top 11 has conceded more than them.
Lucas Joao has 11 of Reading's 29 league goals while Yakou Meite has chipped in with six. In the heart of the midfield, former Brentford youngster Josh Laurent has started every game alongside Academy graduate Andy Rinomhota.
Christian Norgaard (ankle), Mads Roerslev (foot), and Shandon Baptiste (knee) will all miss out tomorrow. Pontus Jansson didn't play against Watford on Tuesday night due to an ankle issue while Ethan Pinnock's availability remains unknown after his sending off against The Hornets.
Reading will be without their two top scorers, Lucas Joao (muscle) and Yakou Meite (ribs) until the New Year while Omar Richards also faces a spell on the sidelines. The trio join John Swift, Andy Yiadom, Felipe Araruna, and George Puscas on the absentee list.
Veljko Paunović began his playing career with Partizan Belgrade in his native Serbia but it was in Spain that he enjoyed his most successful times as a player. He had three spells with Atletico Madrid as well as turning out for seven other Spanish sides during his 15 year career. Paunović also played professionally in Germany, Russia and the United States, ending his career with 87 goals in 411 appearances. At international level, he played twice in friendlies for his nation, scoring against Northern Ireland in April 2004.
His first coaching roles were all within the Serbian FA. He led the Under-18s, Under-19s, and Under-20s, winning the 2015 FIFA World Cup with the latter. Shortly after that success, he took charge at Chicago Fire in the MLS. He spent four years in Illinois, leading them to the end of season Play-Offs in 2017. The 43-year-old left Fire last November, replacing Mark Bowen at Reading in August.
⚖ Keith Stroud will be the man in charge tomorrow afternoon
🆚 Berkshire Live's Jonathan Low previews The Royals
LAST TIME OUT
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