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Reading v Derby – The key players with a point to prove

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Reading will be busy preparing for the visit of the Rams to the Madjeski this Saturday, a game that will be equally important for both teams.

Derby last managed a win over Reading in 2009, but anything is possible in the Championship and players on both sides will feel they have a point to prove. 

Reading's home form:

Reading haven't recorded a win at the Madejski since January 28th, and both the manager and players have stated they hope to change that come Saturday.

Defender Chris Gunter said: "We may not have had it all our own way there in recent games but a few things have gone against us and overall we’ve done well at home. We’ve got to look to Saturday now to try and get things back on track there, then see how far we can push on."

Reading have played more games than Wigan and Brighton, directly below them, making it vital they can secure a win against the Rams on Saturday. Reading's last clean sheet came against Millwall six games ago, something they'll be hoping to rectify. 

Derby's goal drought:

Derby were for so long the Championship's top scorers, but goals have dried up for them in recent weeks with only three in their last six. They continue to play the free-flowing football that started with Nigel Clough and has further developed under Steve McClaren, so the Derby boss has insisted that goals will come: "We have had good fortune in the past when we won games maybe we shouldn't have and right now we're not winning the matches that we feel we should be, things just aren't falling for us right now. It will turn around, I have no doubt, especially with the group of players that we have."

Derby's last goal from open play on February 18th: 

Patrick Bamford, the on-loan Chelsea youngster, will feel he has a point to prove if given his chance on Saturday after recently coming under some criticism from Rams fans. Despite scoring five goals in 11 appearances, fans have wondered if he contributes enough in other areas of the pitch to warrant a starting position. 

A natural goalscorer, Bamford is usually played on the right of a 4-3-3 for Derby that can at times leave Andre Wisdom exposed. This could easily become a problem against attackers like Jobi McAnuff and Hal Robson-Kanu of Reading. 

Key players:

Reading's top goal scorer Adam Le Fondre could cause the Derby centre-backs some stress with his instinctive movement and finishing, but the pairing of Richard Keogh and Jake Buxton has become central to Derby's position of third in the table.

Royston Drenthe, whose first two Reading goals have come in his last two matches will be hoping to continue this run of form and win the three points for the Royals

Chris Martin has been pivotal to Derby's season, not just with his 15 league goals but also his hold up play allowing midfield runners the opportunity to get on the score sheet as well. Simon Dawkins was voted the man of the match against Bolton on the Derby Telegraph website, and if picked to start can be sure to put in a performance cutting in from the left. 

The result:

The winner of this game will be nicely set up for the final 10 games of the season, where momentum will be key. Derby will be hoping to get back to winning ways before the visit of rivals Nottingham Forest to the iPro and this will be their last chance to do so. 

A win for Reading is just as important, with the two teams directly below them having games in hand. The Royals are only a point off Forest above them though, so it's all to play for this Saturday at the Madejski. 

I certainly can't see this one ending goalless, especially if Derby get back to their form from earlier in the season.

What do you think will be the difference between these two on match day? 

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