It’s a huge game from the Macron Stadium tonight, as Bolton Wanderers could climb out of the relegation zone for the first time in - ever? - with victory against fellow strugglers Reading.
Wanderers are six games unbeaten in the league, and they'll be looking to continue that good form against a side sitting six points above them in 19th position. However, Reading’s last away game saw them hammer Derby County 4-2 and they’ve actually won three of their last six league games.
It’s safe to say our recent form against Reading is not good. Bolton have only beaten The Royals twice in 11 attempts since 1997 and haven’t won in the last five meetings, losing the last two and then there was that infamous 7-1 pummelling at the Madejski back in 2014 - in which our now striker Adam Le Fondre scored a hat-trick.
However, as our Great Leader tells us, historical statistics do not matter a jot. Tonight, Phil Parkinson - himself a former Reading player who was voted their best ever central midfielder by the club’s fans - is forced into one change due to Mark Beevers’ absence through suspension - on his birthday, convenient much? - and he’s replaced by Reece Burke, who plays for the first time in nearly a month. That man Le Fondre returns from injury to take his place on the substitutes bench.
The visitors make four changes to the side that lost to Wolverhampton Wanderers, our next opponents on Saturday, last weekend. That includes handing a debut to Amssi Jaakola in goal, while they have a pretty impressive team on paper - which makes sense given they made the play-offs last season. Record signing Sone Aluko starts up front alongside the pacey Modou Barrow and there’s a whole host of former Premier League and full internationals not only starting but on the bench, where we also find 17-year-old striker Danny Loader, who’s in their match-day squad for the first time.
Bolton Wanderers (4-2-3-1): Ben Alnwick; Mark Little, David Wheater, Reece Burke, Antonee Robinson; Darren Pratley, Karl Henry; Sammy Ameobi, Josh Vela, Adam Armstrong; Gary Madine
Substitutes: Adam Le Fondre, Will Buckley, Craig Noone, Josh Cullen, Derik Osede, Stephen Darby, Mark Howard
Reading: Anssi Jaakola; Chris Gunter, Liam Moore, Paul McShane, Tyler Blackett; Leandro Bacuna, Dave Edwards, John Swift, Roy Beerens; Sone Aluko, Modou Barrow
Substitutes: George Legg, Tiago Ilori, Pelle Clement, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Liam Kelly, Omar Richards, Danny Loader