Here are the five things that will be playing on the mind of Reading boss Mark Bowen as he prepares his side to face bottom side Barnsley on Wednesday evening.

Getting more from his midfield

Reading have undoubtedly suffered with the absence of Ovie Ejaria and John Swift in recent weeks.

Even though Mark Bowen is hopeful of a return for Ejaria on Wednesday, his midfield need to do more going forward. Against Birmingham, all three midfielders (McCleary, Rinomhota and Pele) struggled to create much from the middle of the park.

Ejaria can unlock defences but his midfield partners need to do more, especially in the absence of John Swift, to show more creativity from midfield.

A big showing needed from his centre backs

Liam Moore, Matt Miazga and Michael Morrison all had difficult games on Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Birmingham City.

The trio have looked defensively astute under Mark Bowen and each of them have played an important role since he took over.

Bowen will need a quick return to form for each of the three with a build-up of fixtures on the horizon.

Richards or Obita?

Omar Richards was another player who had a tough time against Birmingham on Saturday.

The full back was left exposed on a number of occasions and was at fault for the third goal when he lost possession cheaply.

With Jordan Obita pushing to be fully fit, Bowen will need to decide whether to take Richards out of the firing line or stick with him, should Obita be eligible.

No excuses for firing blanks

On paper, it looks as if Reading should be able to get on the scoresheet on Wednesday evening.

Barnsley have conceded 41 goals so far this season, the joint worst in the division with Luton Town. They also have the second worst home record in the division, only managing two wins from their opening ten, conceding 20 in the process.

Put simply – there should be no excuses for Reading if they fail to score tomorrow night and Mark Bowen will know that.

Keeping a cool head

Only QPR have a worse disciplinary record this season than Barnsley.

Reading on the other hand have a relatively clean record, picking up 12 less cautions than tomorrow’s hosts.

The Royals will need to ensure they don’t get drawn into a heated battle tomorrow evening, with suspensions being the last thing that Mark Bowen needs ahead of the busy Christmas period.