Fulham v Reading preview: Championship play-off first leg live on Sky Sports
Last Updated: 13/05/17 5:34pm
Fulham will be without defenders Ragnar Sigurdsson and Michael Madl for Saturday's Sky Bet Championship play-off semi-final first leg at home to Reading, live on Sky Sports 2 HD from 5.15pm.
Sigurdsson will miss out at Craven Cottage after suffering a calf problem and Madl is nursing an ankle injury. Boss Slavisa Jokanovic does not expect either player to be fit for the second leg on Tuesday, but they might be available at Wembley should Fulham reach the final. Jokanovic otherwise has a full-strength squad available.
Reading winger Garath McCleary is in contention despite missing the 4-2 win over Burton with a groin problem. Skipper Paul McShane (calf) and midfielder Joey van den Berg (hamstring) played 45 minutes each against Albion to prove their fitness.
Stephen Quinn is also close to returning after a knee problem and Deniss Rakels is back in training following a broken ankle. Winger Callum Harriott remains sidelined by a hamstring injury.
Fulham beat Reading 5-0 at Craven Cottage in the regular league season, with Chris Martin scoring twice for them.
Reading's only win in their last five Championship fixtures against Fulham came in their most recent meeting in January, where they recorded a 1-0 home victory (D1 L3).
The team that finished sixth in the Championship has won promotion via the play-offs just once in the last 11 seasons - Blackpool in 2009/10.
The team to finish third in the second tier of English football has won the play-offs more times than any other finishing position (10 of 28 - 36%).
This is Fulham's first play-off campaign since 1997/98, when they lost in the third-tier semi-finals against Grimsby under the stewardship of Kevin Keegan.
Reading will be embarking upon their sixth venture into the Football League play-offs and fifth in the second tier. The Royals have failed to win promotion on all six occasions, most recently losing 2-4 vs Swansea in the 2010/11 final.
The Royals have lost two play-off finals in the second tier, a tally beaten only by Sheffield United (3).
Chris Martin scored in both legs of the 2013/14 Championship play-off semi-final against Brighton for Derby, scoring two goals as the Rams reached the final.
Although Reading are arguably the most straightforward side to predict out of the four teams in the play-offs - in terms of their results and style of play - this will be a tough test.
Fulham aren't your typical side that finish sixth as they've looked an obvious gatecrasher to the play-off scene for a long time. Slavisa Jokanovic's men have maintained their momentum and fully deserve their spot. This game will be a clash of styles. Reading like to keep the ball while Fulham play a dynamic game where their full-backs provide a key tactic in what they do.
I've got a feeling Fulham will be strong at Craven Cottage. Reading will want to make it a cagey affair, which could just suit Fulham, who have scored in each of their last 17 league matches.
PRUTTON PREDICTS: 2-1 (Sky Bet odds: 10/1)
Fulham are the 8/13 favourites with Sky Bet to win at home, while Reading are priced at 17/4 and the draw is 3/1. Chris Martin is the favourite to score the first goal, while for Reading Yann Kermorgant is seen as the most likely at 13/2. Tom Cairney to score outside the penalty area has been enhanced from 5/1 to 7/1 in Sky Bet's Price Boosts. The Cottagers are considered 13/8 favourites to gain promotion via the play-offs, while Jaap Stam's men are the outsiders at 5/1.