On Saturday Reading kick off their 2020/21 Championship season with a difficult trip to the East Midlands to face Philip Cocu’s Derby County.

Below we look at what you should know about the Rams ahead of the weekend’s fixture.

Recent Background

Derby County are now the longest serving Championship side, having been in the division for 13 consecutive seasons since their record-breaking relegation from the Premier League with just 11 points in 2007/08.

Regular ‘nearly-men’ in the division, the club have had four play-off campaigns in nine seasons, including a final defeat in both 2014 and 2019.

Last season the side finished 10th in a tumultuous first year in charge for Dutchman Cocu, in which three first-team players, including club captain Richard Keogh, were involved in a drink-driving scandal.

However, the turn of the year saw a vast improvement, no doubt brought about by the signing of England record goal-scorer Wayne Rooney at Pride Park.

The former Everton and Manchester United star had previously signed in August 2019 but was not permitted to play until the New Year.

The side lost just three times pre-lockdown with Rooney, but post-lockdown form included four straight defeats in July and put to bed any small dream of a late play-off push.

The team endured a mixed pre-season, beating League One side Peterborough United, drawing with Doncaster Rovers but losing to both Brentford and Sheffield United.

They opened their competitive season with a 0-0 draw against League Two new-boys Barrow, eventually beating them 3-2 on penalties in the Carabao Cup.

Key Players

Despite their mid-table finish, Cocu has a strong squad available when all are fully fit.

Although the goalkeeper position was not fully nailed down by either Kelle Roos or Ben Hamer last season, the summer edition of Scottish international David Marshall strengthens the team between the posts.

A stable back line of Jayden Bogle, Matt Clarke, Curtis Davies and Max Lowe will need to be changed with the losses of both full-backs Bogle and Lowe to Sheffied United, but the addition of Nathan Byrne from Wigan Athletic is a more than adequate replacement at right-back.

Re-signing Clarke on loan from Brighton for another season could be one of the best bits of business in the league after an impressive season last time out.

The club also bought in another centre-half, Mike te Wierik, from Dutch side Groningen.

Potentially the best part of the Rams’ squad, Cocu has a genuinely exciting midfield full of both young academy graduates and experience.

All three of Jason Knight, Louie Sibley and Max Bird impressed in their debut seasons for the club, and will no doubt be pushing each-other on to be even better this time out.

Although all three cannot start, with Rooney needing to be fitted in too, the boys have time on their side and will look to impress in however many minutes they get.

The strike force will be blunted by the departure of long-serving Chris Martin after his 12 league goals.

12 from Martyn Waghorn and three from Jack Mariott leaves a lot to be desired, but there is no question that on their day they are both top strikers for this division.

Former Royal George Evans will hope this can be a season to remember after an injury-hit campaign last time out.

Very highly thought of in Derby, he signed a one-year contract extension over the summer.

The former Manchester City academy graduate played 71 times for Reading over three seasons at the club.

Head to Head

The two sides have met 48 times in the past, the first being a 1-1 draw in 1965.

Both regularly bouncing in the top two tiers of English football during the 2000s has meant that the two play each other very often, 34 times to be exact.

Last season the sides won one game each, a 3-0 Reading win at the Madejski in December and then a 2-1 Derby win at Pride Park in June.


At the time of writing, Derby are evens to win according to SkyBet, while a draw is 5/2 and a Reading win is 13/5.