The Royals – who, like Southampton, were promoted from the npower Championship in the summer – currently sit second-bottom in the Barclays Premier League standings with nine points from 14 games.
A home win this weekend could, therefore, give Saints a six-point advantage over the side that pipped us to the Championship title in April and move us further away from the bottom of the league.
Reading have won just one Premier League game since returning to the top flight, but their six draws have kept them in touch with the teams around them.
As Saints were in September, the Royals were involved in a thriller against Manchester United last weekend – Brian McDermott’s side were three-two up after 23 minutes but United hit back to lead four-three at the break, with the second half ending goalless.
Tomorrow’s opponents have lost three of their last four away games – including a one-nil loss to fellow strugglers Aston Villa – and have picked up just two points on the road this season.
Saints will assess the fitness of Gastón Ramírez after he returned to training today having spent the week in his native Uruguay on compassionate leave.
Danny Fox and Richard Chaplow are nearing returns from knee injuries, while Frazer Richardson is close to recovering from the thigh problem that has kept him out for the past two months.
If Ramírez is passed fit, Nigel Adkins could well name an unchanged starting XI for the sixth consecutive game with no new injuries reported on the back of last week’s defeat at Liverpool.
Pavel Pogrebnyak – Reading’s top scorer so far this season with five goals – is a doubt after he picked up a knock in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Stevenage in midweek.
Midfielders Danny Guthrie and Jem Karacan should be fit after respective shin and knee problems, but Jimmy Kebe (groin) is likely to miss out again.
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy underwent shoulder surgery earlier this week and will be out for the majority of the season.
It’s just under eight months since we last hosted Reading, when both clubs were pushing for promotion to the Premier League and battling for the Championship title.
The Royals ran out 3-1 winners in that Friday-night fixture – Jason Roberts put the visitors ahead until Rickie Lambert levelled, but a late double from Adam Le Fondre consigned Saints to defeat.
That game was the Berkshire side’s third-ever visit to St Mary’s, with the previous two ending in draws.
We last beat Reading in 2008, when Bradley Wright-Phillips’ double helped us to a 2-1 win at the Madejski Stadium.
Overall, we have faced tomorrow’s opponents 39 times – 14 of those have ended in victory, 14 in draws and 11 in defeat.
Tomorrow’s game will be refereed by Mr J Moss. The assistant referees are Mr D C Richards and Mr J Brooks, with Mr M Naylor acting as the fourth official.
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You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player
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Nigel Adkins and José Fonte spoke to Saints Player
ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews – plus their full press conferences – now.