Reading vs Stoke predictions: Neil's Potters can grind out positive result
Reading are eager to get back on the winning path when they welcome Stoke to the Select Car Leasing Stadium on Sunday for a 12pm kick-off.
Paul Ince's men, who finished four points and one place above the drop zone last season, have made a strong start to 2022-23 and they sat top of the standings prior to losing 4-0 at Sheffield United on Tuesday.
Stoke, meanwhile, made a very underwhelming start to the campaign, leading to the sacking of Michael O'Neil.
However, they have shown an improvement by picking up four points from a possible six under interim boss Dean Holden and new permanent manager Alex Neil.
Reading defender Naby Sarr picked up a hamstring injury in the loss to Sheffield United last time out and Tom McIntyre is expected to drop into the backline.
That should see Tyrese Fornah come back into the midfield for his seventh start of the campaign after joining on loan from Nottingham Forest.
Left-back Baba Rahman is back at the club for a second loan spell from Chelsea and is pushing for a start, while striker Shane Long could also get the nod to come back in.
New Stoke boss Neil is still getting to grips with his squad and changes are expected after drawing 1-1 with Swansea last time out.
Tyrese Campbell scored from the bench against the Swans and Neil could bring him back into the starting XI, while Will Smallbone and Tarique Fosu-Henry also impressed in that clash and may be given the chance from the outset.
Reading ran out 2-1 winners when hosting Stoke last season, courtesy of a second-half own goal from loanee Taylor Harwood-Bellis.
However, that is Reading's only win over Stoke since 2006, with the Potters picking up one win and three draws in the meantime.
This fixture has a history of providing goals, with both teams finding the back of the net in five of the last six meetings, while at least three goals have been scored in three of the last four.
It is always difficult to gauge how a team will perform with a new manager at the helm as Neil looks to put his stamp on a squad that was previously underperforming.
One thing that was clear to see in Neil's first game in charge was fight and character from his players as they snatched a point in the 91st minute.
He will be demanding more of the same against a Reading outfit that appears to be overachieving and were brought crashing back down to earth by promotion hopefuls Sheffield United.
Reading's perfect home record this term, winning three from three, makes it hard to get firmly behind a Stoke victory, especially when considering the Potters have picked up just three points from a possible nine on the road.
But this fixture has had a recent tendency to end in a draw, with four stalemates in the last seven meetings, and that could prove to be the case again as Stoke look to further find their feet.