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Last 10 Games

With ten games left Reading have let themselves slip out of the play-off places, but not out of the hunt - especially with a huge amount of teams dropping points. With five consecutive games against teams that should be easily disposed of there's a real chance that The Royals can get back into the top six come the end of the season.

With Leicester and Burnley almost certain of automatic promotion, the biggest story - in terms of the play-offs - from the top two is that Wigan and Reading still have to play both teams, with Brighton, QPR, and Ipswich all having to play one of them. So there are six teams vying for the play-offs, with a few more snapping at their heels, who all have to play three or four of their promotion-rivals. Other than Derby, that is - after their games against Nottingham Forest and Ipswich they have eight games against teams out of the running - and their biggest tests against Watford and Leeds should be when their opponents have nothing to play for.

Derby haven't won in four games, only picking up two points against Bolton and us. They play Nottingham Forest this weekend, who can only boast three points from the last eighteen on offer. In a huge derby anyway there's the added pressure for Forest to stay sitting in sixth place. A win at St Andrew's for The Royals against significantly easier opponents would usurp Forest if they fail to win, and they could find themselves as low as eighth if Brighton also manage to overcome Ipswich.

If Reading want to make the play-offs there's 6 must-win games, and four must-not-lose, and they have the advantage of not having to deal with fixture congestion of some other teams. Wigan have a monumental run-in, which hopefully will see them focus on their cup-run rather than their league form.

The Royals' games home to Leicester, - on a Monday evening - followed by Wigan away on Good Friday are by far the most important, assuming that they manage to win the rest. Definitely games not to lose more than anything else. Plus the following match against Middelsbrough is one that we could slip up on, terrible memories of the 3-0 defeat earlier in the season; a win would be excellent but another that we should strive pick up at least a point in.

So that's 22 points we should pick up, which would see us finish with 78 - enough to reach the semi-finals in every season as far as I can be bothered to go back. Generally around 70 is good enough, and with teams losing form at the exact wrong time it may be enough this year as well.

The last day of the season could be the most crucial with the teams - currently - in 6th and 8th facing off, and Reading in 7th hosting Burnley who hopefully have sealed promotion by this point. In our 2011/12 winning campaign the final two games, after the Championship was secure, saw a draw with Crystal Palace after Roberts was sent off, and a loss to Birmingham who were looking to secure a play-off place. A replication of that at the Madejski on May 3rd would be very welcome.

Personally I can't see QPR or Derby dropping out of the play-offs, espcially not with the latter's run-in. Then there's Wigan, who - before a thrilling 3-3 draw with Yeovil - had six wins in six. With a game in hand over the rest of the pack it'll be interesting to see whether they can balance their cup commitments with their desire for Premier League football. Which leaves The Royals fighting with Brighton - who also have a game in hand - and Nottingham Forest, they too can be caught by The Seagulls should they win their extra match.

Reading are certainly good enough to snatch that spot, and if they can get up a head of steam in the next five then there's no reason why they can't make it their own. The only problem is whether they can fire up the engine quick enough to keep us in contention.


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