Reading are without ex-Luton, Liverpool and Derby midfielder for crunch clash with Hatters

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Top scorer Ince missing due to injury

Reading are without as many as eight first team players for tonight’s home clash against Luton, with former Liverpool and Hatters midfielder Tom Ince missing out.

The 31-year-old has made 36 appearances for the Royals this season, and is the club’s leading scorer with nine in the Championship, but hasn’t featured in just over a month after suffering an injury during the recent international break.

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Ince, who played seven times for the Hatters during the back end of the 2020-21 campaign, joins an unavailable list containing former Premier League striker Shane Long, plus Baba Rahman, Liam Moore, Tom McIntyre, Junior Hoilett, Ovie Ejaria, and Sam Hutchinson, while Yakou Meite remains a doubt too.

Tom Ince in action for Reading at Manchester United earlier this seasonTom Ince in action for Reading at Manchester United earlier this season
Tom Ince in action for Reading at Manchester United earlier this season

The Royals go into the game on the back of a run of nine matches without a win, which coupled with a six point deduction for violating agreed budget restrictions after a previous breach of the EFL's profitability and sustainability rules has seen them drop into the bottom three.

Boss Paul Ince paid the price for the slump with his job last week, as U21s manager Noel Hunt was placed in interim charge until the end of the season, overseeing an excellent goalless draw with already promoted Burnley on Saturday.

Despite their position, Reading’s home form has been their one shining light, with 10 wins, a record only bettered by five other teams in the division, as speaking to the club’s official website about the contest, Hunt said: “It feels like we’ve been the hunted for the last six or seven weeks.

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"Everyone has been gunning for us. So let’s turn it around, let’s go and be hunters.

"Let’s go and fight for points, let’s go and hunt teams down and let’s get ourselves out of this battle we’re in.

“Luton is going to be another big game, definitely, they’re a very, very good side.

“They are going to come here and give everything, all guns blazing.

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"They have nothing to lose, they aren’t going to drop out of the play-off positions, and they can still chase automatic.

"So we’ve got to be up for the fight. We’ve got to expect more of what we got against Burnley on Saturday and some. We can’t leave any stone unturned."

With 19,476 in attendance at the Madejski Stadium for Saturday’s clash with the Clarets, a highest gate of the season, Hunt called on supporters again tonight, adding: “We’ll need our fans again.

"The crowd here play such a big part, I want to emphasise that.

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"When we break through lines and we get forward, you can hear the volume increase, and noise is what players feed off, so the more noise, the better!

“Saturday is done, we have to move forward.

"There are no more sanctions looming over us, nothing else to concern ourselves with other than a meeting with Luton Town on home turf.

"So let’s just be free – let’s go and play football.

"Let’s go and enjoy it, back your mates up out there and let’s see where it takes us!"