Albion travel to Reading on Saturday searching for their first win since Boxing Day, in the knowledge that the Royals are slowly but surely picking up points on a more regular basis. It has been dubbed by many 'Shane Long's match', the Irish striker making his first return to the Madejski stadium since departing for the Baggies in the summer before last. The forward is Albion's record signing, spending in excess of £6m to bring him to the Hawthorns. His return at the minute is 16 goals, something he'll be looking to add to when he revisits Berkshire. The home side have made themselves hard to beat at their ground in recent weeks, clean sheets at home to Swansea and West Ham and an FA cup victory over Crawley will see Brian McDermott's men in a buoyant mood ahead of this fixture. Albion won the reverse fixture 1-0 in a match that didn't particularly live long in the memory, Romelu Lukaku netting upon his first start for the club. McDermott has gone about adding to his squad already, Daniel Carrico and Hope Akpan already joining the Royals with Stephen Kelly of Fulham set to follow. With Zoltan Gera out for the season, and Youssouf Mulumbu at the African Cup of Nations it will be intriguing to see if Steve Clarke decides to dabble in the transfer market. Tom Huddlestone and Nathan Redmond are a couple of names being mentioned. Team News The hosts will have Akpan and Carrico at their disposal should they wish to give them debuts. Jason Roberts, Mikele Leigertwood and Hal Robson-Kanu all look set to miss out, while Alex McCarthy is a long term absentee. Albion will be boosted by the return of Goran Popov for the trip. The left back hobbled off on Boxing Day in the win over QPR, and hasn't played since. Steve Clarke has been encouraged by the progress made by his wounded, and hopes to have 'one or two' back fit between now and the FA Cup replay next Tuesday. Jerome Thomas could fill in Gera. Match Stats - The last ten meetings in all competitions has seen 2 West Brom wins, 4 draws and 4 Reading victories, with five of these matches in the cup. - Names relating to both: Nicky Shorey, Shane Long, Jason Roberts - Reading have the second worst defensive record in the league- only to Aston Villa. - Albion have only won two of their last eight and haven't kept a clean sheet in four. Prediction There wasn't much in the reverse fixture, and I can't see too much more in this one. I'd like to think the Baggies could nick it 2-1, but my head is saying Steve Clarke may have to be content with a point. It will be interesting what other players come through the door at the Madejski this month, as the Royals fight to stay up (I for one hope they do!) Match score: 2-2.
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Source: WBA MAD