Behind Enemy Lines: Reading

MILLWALL head into this tie knowing they could play one of the top English teams in the next round with a win. The likes of London sides Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea all enter at the next stage, and the Lions would love the chance to create an upset.

In terms of their league campaign, Millwall currently sit second bottom in the Championship. Two points from four games should really be at least 10, if not the maximum. Performances have been hugely encouraging, but defensive lapses, goalkeeping errors and poor finishing have seen the Lions struggle to pick up points.

Reading are not enjoying the best of starts to their season. Fans are becoming increasingly frustrated with the slow build-up play employed by Jaap Stam, especially when they aren't putting the ball in the back of the net at the end of it. First-choice striker Yann Kermorgant is injured, so the finishing will be down to someone else.

After last season's play-off heartbreak, Reading haven’t started the season the way they would have hoped, but were comfortable 2-0 winners over Gillingham in the last round.

Lucas Ball spoke to Matt James ahead of Tuesday evening’s game.

Twitter: @MattJamesJoy

What made you support the Royals?

I was born in Reading, so there was only ever going to be one team to support for me. It was either Reading or Crystal Palace as my family all originate from south London, but I should probably keep that to myself on a Millwall site!

Is Jaap Stam the right man for the job? He's come under a lot of criticism recently.

For me, most definitely – but he isn’t without his flaws.

I think the difficult thing for Jaap this year so far has been a seemingly endless injury list. We currently have eight first-team players out injured, which is obviously going to take its toll.

For me, the disappointment has been a lack of willingness to adapt from our tactics at some points this year. It appears sometimes that we don’t have a Plan B but Plan A obviously worked so well last season so I’d be reluctant to criticise too much.

Some Reading fans do need to recognise the long-term progress that’s been made under Stam. Sometimes the reliance on possession and a lack of cutting edge is frustrating, but we finished 17th the season before he came in and third last year, so it clearly has a positive effect in the long run.

What positions do Reading still need to strengthen in?

Up top should be the priority. We’re one or two players away from being able to have a very good season and we’re crying out for a 20-goal-a-season man to finish off the good build-up play, especially with Kermogant out for a couple more months.

We’ve been linked with Nelson Oliveira, Nahki Wells and Sone Aluko and I think any of them would make our team much better because our lack of presence in the penalty area is desperately obvious to all of the fans and I think the club itself as well.

I’d also like to see another engine in the middle of the park and a full-back, in an ideal world, but a striker should be our number-one target.

How do you expect Jake Cooper to do at Millwall? Were you happy with the decision to let him move?

I really hope Cooper makes a success of his move. I went to school with him, and you could see his quality from a young age.

Unfortunately for Jake, Liam Moore looks like a real classy centre-back and alongside the experience of Paul Mcshane, Tiago Illori and Joey Van den Berg, Cooper wasn’t going to get the chances he needs so the move was right for him.

I’d personally have kept him another year but I understand his desire to move and I think he’ll be a very good signing for Millwall.

Which players are Reading's danger men?

With our injury list, it’ll be a bit tough to predict who’ll be starting! I really like the look of our new signing, Modou Barrow, who seems like a very exciting addition on the wing in his first few games.

I hope to see Leandro Bacuna get a game because he’s got a lot to prove since his arrival from Aston Villa, so I think should he play he’ll be very eager to impress.

Which Millwall players will the Royals have to keep an eye on?

I’ve always been impressed whenever I’ve watched Steve Morison. He may not have the best natural talent but his hard work and industrious side seems to be something our defence have had a few issues with this season.

Lee Gregory and Jed Wallace have also impressed me and I like the look of Tom Elliot as well.

What is your predicted line-up and formation for Tuesday night?



Gunter Moore Ilori Blackett

Evans Rinomhota Barrett

Clement Mendes Bacuna

Finally, a score prediction?

Reading 2-1 Millwall after extra-time.

Graphic: @ShedCreative