Improving Royals ready to put the wind up Trotters
Southend can take care of a sloppy Dons defence
Sky Bet Football League
From 7.45pm Tuesday
Reading's appearance in last season's Sky Bet Championship playoff final must feel like a distant memory to their supporters, but there has been a noticeable improvement in the Royals' recent performances and they can provide tough opposition for lowly Bolton at the Macron Stadium.
Bolton's hopes of staying up have increased after a six-game unbeaten run but they have won just two league games all season and looked an ordinary side while labouring to a 0-0 draw at injury-hit Preston on Friday.
Trotters manager Phil Parkinson has got his side well organised but will need to add some better players in January if he is to have a realistic chance of keeping them up.
Bolton's strong suit is their defence but Parkinson must make an enforced change against Reading because centre-back Mark Beevers, the only Trotters player to have competed in every minute of league football this season, serves a one-game ban.
The home side's weakened defence could be severely tested because Reading are starting to click into gear.
Jaap Stam's men posted back-to-back wins before the international break and were unlucky to lose 2-0 at home to leaders Wolves on Saturday.
Reading have looked a much more threatening side since star striker Yann Kermorgant's recent return from injury and they may have a little too much quality for Bolton.
Reading draw no bet
2pts Evs Power
MK Dons v Southend
Phil Brown was critical of his Southend players after Saturday's 1-0 loss at Portsmouth – telling them they are not as good as they think they are – and he can get the desired response when the Shrimpers take on MK Dons in Buckinghamshire.
Injuries have held Southend back this season but the squad is looking healthier than a few weeks ago and they look more solid in defence with fit-again centre-back Michael Turner linking up with Anton Ferdinand.
The duo are former Premier League players and keeping them fit could be the key to Southend pushing towards the playoffs.
MK Dons may have to work hard for their opportunities and they could be a shade disjointed because of suspensions to three first team regulars – right-back George Williams, centre-back Ethan Ebanks-Landell and midfielder Ed Upson.
Robbie Neilson's side are also without injured striker Osman Sow and may struggle against a Southend side fired up by their manager's weekend comments.
2pts 9-5 bet365, Betfair
Oxford v Blackburn
Blackburn have taken a while to get going in Sky Bet League One but are starting to punch at their weight and can extend their unbeaten sequence to eight with a victory at the Kassam Stadium.
Rovers climbed back into the top six with a 3-0 win at Bury on Saturday but they will be solely focused on gaining automatic promotion.
Seventh-placed Oxford are only one place and two points worse off but have played two games more and had been on a four-match losing streak before winning 4-0 at Plymouth on Saturday.
Oxford's task at Home Park was relatively straightforward after Plymouth conceded a penalty in the 14th minute and in the process lost defender Ryan Edwards to a red card.
United face a much tougher challenge against Rovers and may fall short.
2pts 13-10 bet365, Betfair
Follow us on Twitter @racingpostsport
Like us on Facebook RacingPostSport