READING FC return to the Madejski Stadium tonight as they take on Watford in the second round of the Carabao Cup (8pm ko), writes Jim Tatum.

The Royals boss Paul Clement is expected to make a number of changes, with the squad suffering from various injuries and games coming thick and fast.

Clement is also yet to name the same Reading side twice this season and it is very likely he will shuffle his pack again for the clash against the Premier League Hornets.

“We won’t make massive changes but we might freshen it up in certain areas," confirmed Clement.

“It’s not about 11 players. Even if you are not getting on the pitch you need to help create good spirit and help your teammates. Those who came on at Aston Villa made a difference on Saturday.”

Clement was no doubt referring to Southampton loanee Josh Sims who came off the bench at Villa Park to win the injury-time penalty which Sam Baldock converted to salvage a 1-1 draw.

The likes of John Swift, Liam Kelly, Omar Richards, Paul McShane and goalkeeper Sam Walker could also feature tonight.

Regarding injuries, Mo Barrow made his return against Aston Villa on Saturday, but had to be withdrawn at half-time.

There are question marks over McShane too, who was absent against Villa, although Clement insists he was simply rotating his squad.

“Mo Barrow came off because his groin flared up a bit at half time, so we didn’t want to risk him," explained Royals' boss.

“He played a couple of games and given the age he’s at, we need to make sure he’s there for the entire season.

“If we push him too much we could potentially break him and put him out, so it was a case of giving him a rest.

“He’s available for selection, but we’ll have to see if I use him.”

Elsewhere, Chris Gunter and Adrian Popa were in action for Royals Under 23s at the weekend as they continue to return to the first team set-up.

Gunter hasn’t featured since picking up a thigh injury in pre-season and is expected to play some part tonight, while Popa is short of match fitness but could also get the nod.

Reading defeated Birmingham City 2-0 at home in the first round with goals from Yakou Meite and John Swift.

Speaking after Saturday's league draw at Aston Villa, Clement said: "We’re looking forward to going back to the Madejski. We need to sort our home form out.

"We've lost to Derby and Bolton, both by a single goal – but we did have a good win in the Carabao Cup at home and we want to replicate that in midweek against Watford.”

Expected Reading FC line up:

Walker, Yiadom, Moore, Ilori, Richards, Swift, Bacuna, Kelly, Meite, Baldock, McNulty.


Reading and Watford meet in the second round of the Carabao Cup tonight, with both teams having contrasting fortunes this season.

Royals have endured a torrid start and are yet to win in the league this season, with their solitary win coming in the Carabao Cup.

Their opponents Watford on the other hand, are one of four teams in England with a one hundred percent record, along with Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Peterborough.

It is the 12th time Watford and Reading have met in the EFL Cup, the Hornets won 3-0 at the Madejski in their last EFL Cup meeting back in 2004.

Royals don’t have a particularly good record against Watford, winning just twice in the last ten meetings between the two, their last victory coming in 2014.

These two sides last met in 2015, when Watford won comfortably 4-1 and Jem Karacan was on the scoresheet for the Royals.

The last time Watford played against Reading as a Premier League team was back in 2007, when both sides were in the top flight.

The Hornets have been eliminated in the second round of the EFL Cup every year since their return to the Premier League in 2016.

Their best showing in the competition was reaching the semi-finals, which they have done on two occasions, the last time coming in 2005 against Liverpool.

Royals best run in the EFL Cup was when they reached the quarter finals, which they have managed twice, in 1996 and 1998.