READING FC defender Liam Moore is in a race against time to be fit for Saturday’s M4 derby against rivals Brentford (3pm ko).

Moore picked up an ankle injury during last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Hull City.

The 24-year-old centre-back was left out of Jaap Stam’s squad for the FA Cup third-round replay win against Stevenage on Tuesday night.

Moore had also missed the first clash at Stevenage with a minor knock, fuelling speculation Royals did not want him cup-tied, a suggestion Stam has since vehemently denied.

Moore has been linked with a big-money January move to a number of Premier league clubs including West Ham and West Brom, while former Royals boss Brendan Rodgers is also thought to be keen on signing him for Celtic.

Stam, who has admitted he may need to sell players to raise transfer funds, is now sweating on Moore’s availability this weekend, with the former Leicester City star facing a late fitness test tomorrow.

“Liam rolled over on his ankle against Hull,” confirmed Stam. “There was fluid on his ankle so we couldn’t risk him on Tuesday night.

“We need to assess him then make a decision whether he can play against Brentford.”

Stam is already faced with prospect of being without his other key centre-back and skipper Paul McShane for several weeks after the Republic of Ireland international tore his hamstring against his old club Hull City.

He was one of two Reading players to limp off in the first half at KCOM Stadium after midfield ace John Swift also suffered a recurrence of a long-standing hamstring issue.

Reading Chronicle:

John Swift goes down with another hamstring injury in the 0-0 draw at Hull City. Picture: Jason Dawson/jasonpix.

“Macca has a hamstring strain and will be out for a while,” stated Stam, who is likely to start with Tiago Ilori and Tyler Blackett in central defence again. “I don’t know the exact time and it’s the same with Swifty.”

Reading will also be missing Jordan Obita, Callum Harriott, Joseph Mendes and Stephen Quinn through injury, though Academy graduate Sam Smith is close to full-fitness.

Royals have not won in seven Championship matches and are 18th in the table, just five points above the relegation zone.

They face a stern test this Saturday against a Brentford side in 11th and chasing a play-off spot.

“We need to get the points and get the win,” stressed Stam. “We know what they can do, they play quite similar to how we want to play.

“They’re a very good teach and technically very skilful. They’re doing quite well in the league so I think it’s going to be an interesting game.

“The good thing is they are two teams who want to try and play football.”

Stam is now weighing up whether to start Jon Dadi Bodvarsson up front against the Bees or bring Yann Kermorgant back into the side.

Kermorgant was rested against Stevenage on Tuesday night and watched Bodvarsson rattle in his first hat-trick in England in the 3-0 victory at Madejski Stadium.