Reading boss Mark Bowen will take his side to lowly Wigan Athletic on Saturday, on the back of two consecutive defeats against Brentford and Leeds United. Here are the five key issues facing Mark Bowen ahead of the trip to the DW Stadium.

The striker situation

In the last two games, Reading have struggled to create much going forward. As discussed here, I do not believe that this is a purely a reflection of Reading’s lack of creativity –and more the relentless pressing styles that the Royals have faced.

Mark Bowen confirmed after the Leeds defeat that Lucas Joao will play for the U23’s today against Charlton, with a view to being involved on Saturday – depending on how he gets through the game.

Sam Baldock has also had two scans which ‘haven’t really shown anything’ according to Bowen.

Should Joao and Baldock be available for selection, it’ll be interesting to see which two strikers Bowen goes for. Puscas is clearly lacking in confidence and Bowen may want to take him out the firing line, but Saturday may come too early to replace him with either Joao or Baldock.

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The need to control the game

Reading have seen their creativity stifled substantially in the last two games. Leeds and Brentford have both restricted the influence of both Ovie Ejaria and John Swift in the middle of the pitch by closing both down incredibly quickly.

As a result, Reading have struggled to maintain the ball – often being forced the bypass the midfield in an attempt to get higher up the pitch.

This has been one of the key factors in both defeats. Reading need to turn the tables and exert a similar style at Wigan, in order to create more and allow the wing-backs to get forward and support the attack.

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Will Yiadom return or will Gunter keep his place

Chris Gunter had a fantastic game against Leeds United on Tuesday night. He was disciplined, decisive in the challenge – working tirelessly to restrict the creative influence of the Leeds wide players.

Andy Yiadom had been an ever present for the Royals this season before his suspension and has been one of Reading’s most consistent performers this campaign.

I don’t think Bowen will stick with Gunter, even after his impressive display. The Welsh full back certainly did his selection bid no harm on Tuesday, but after four consecutive starts under Bowen at the start of his reign, it seems clear who the manager prefers.

The potential consequences of a defeat

Mark Bowen refused to call Saturday a must win game, but he will know the importance of the match.

Should Reading fall to a third consecutive defeat, they will be leapfrogged by Wigan Athletic – who currently find themselves in the relegation zone.

A win for Reading will not see the Royals climb any places, but it would see them open up a four-point gap from the bottom three – should 23rd place Stoke City pick up all three points. If the Potters fail to win, Reading will go five points clear of the drop zone. A win could also see the Royals move three points behind Birmingham City, who will visit the Madejski Stadium on December 7.

Keeping Chey Dunkley quiet

September’s Championship Player of the Month Chey Dunkley is currently Wigan’s top scorer this season, with five goals.

Reading’s defence will need to be wary of the threat that the centre back poses – especially from set pieces.