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Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Leeds can deal a blow to Reading in promotion battle

Wood's return has boosted Yorkshire side

Chris Wood notches for Leeds against Nottingham Forest
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Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports 1, 5.30pm Saturday

Leeds sent out a powerful statement to their Sky Bet Championship promotion rivals with a well deserved 2-0 victory at home to Brighton before the international break and can stay on a winning path at fifth-placed Reading.

Chris Wood, the division's top scorer, struck twice against the Seagulls and is set to line up against Reading despite sustaining a knock while on international duty for New Zealand.

Wood's quick recovery is a huge boost to the Whites, who need their star striker to stay on the goal trail if they are to put pressure on the top two.

Garry Monk's side are eight points adrift of the top two and eight inside the playoffs and would rather be looking up than over their shoulders during the run-in.

The situation looks more clear-cut for Reading, who are two points behind Leeds and have a significantly worse goal difference.

There is often extra spice when promotion-chasing teams play each other at this stage of the season and the tension has been increased by recent comments by Royals striker Yann Kermorgant about Leeds's direct style of play and their reliance on Wood.

Leeds defeated Reading 2-0 at Elland Road in December with 23 per cent share of possession although they finished the job without Wood, who departed with an injury after just 33 minutes (the score was 1-0 to Leeds at the time).

A clash of styles is likely to be evident once again with Reading looking to play a patient possession-based game and Leeds defending deep and looking to swift counter-attacks and set-pieces.

The outcome could be very similar.

Leeds might not have one of the best midfields in the division but they are strong in key areas with ex-England goalkeeper Rob Green in goal, Swedish international Pontus Jansson marshalling the defence and Wood providing the cutting edge.

Their style is not the prettiest but they have become a very effective unit and should be backed to collect another precious three points.

2pts 2-1 BetBright

Team news
Tiago Ilori, Liam Kelly and Jordon Mutch are back in training but lacking match fitness. Deniss Rakels, Callum Harriott and Stephen Quinn are definite absentees.

Chris Wood sustained a knock while playing for New Zealand but is expected to start. Luke Ayling is suspended.

Key stat
Leeds are unbeaten in their last seven matches.

Wood's quick recovery is a huge boost to the Whites, who need their star striker to stay on the goal trail if they are to put pressure on the top two
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