Reading v Middlesbro' preview
Royals aiming to end losing run against struggling Boro
By Stephen Bramley. Last Updated: 30/11/07 11:14am
Southgate: Under pressure
Middlesbrough travel to Reading on Saturday knowing defeat could see them slide into the Premier League's relegation zone.
Gareth Southgate's injury-ravaged side arrive in Berkshire with just two wins from their first 14 league games and have failed to win in their last nine games.
And defeat at the Madejski Stadium, a ground they lost at in a five goal thriller on the opening day of last season, is certain to increase the calls for Southgate's head.
Reading go into the match after three straight Premier League defeats but worryingly for Southgate and Boro, they have a good home record.
Steve Coppell's side have picked all but one of their 13 points in front of their own fans including wins against Everton, Derby, Wigan and Newcastle and will be determined to call a halt to their recent dip in form.
But Boro can be comforted by the fact that Reading also have the second poorest defensive record in the top flight.
The Royals are without Michael Duberry, who is still recovering from the rib injury he suffered at Fulham at the start of the month.
Things are not so rosy for Southgate who is missing Mark Schwarzer and Mido for the trip to the Madejski.
Goalkeeper Schwarzer is out for two to three weeks with a broken thumb, with Ross Turnbull in line to replace him, while striker Mido is unlikely to figure again until the New Year after being told to take a complete break from the game with a groin injury.
However, there is some good news for the troubled Boro boss with Julio Arca back in contention.
The Argentine midfielder is ready to return after playing 59 minutes for the reserves in midweek following his recovery from medial ligament damage, while former Chelsea defender Robert Huth (ankle) is also in contention.
Barclays Premier League
|15||West Bromwich Albion||15||15|
|17||West Ham United||15||13|