Steven Fletcher missed the visit of Chelsea at the weekend due to the ankle injury that saw him forced off during the clash with Norwich last week. He could well be back to face Reading, though.
Jack Colback has been on the bench for the last 2 games, with Gardner and Larsson playing in central midfield. However, with Phil Bardsley withdrawn at the weekend due to a poor performance, Martin O'Neill may opt to play Gardner at right-back and Colback in the middle.
Sunderland improved as the game progressed at the weekend and will have a little more confidence as a result.
Sean Morrison was withdrawn in the defeat to Southampton at the weekend with an ankle injury, and was seen leaving the stadium on crutches, though it is not yet clear how bad the injury is. If he doesn't make it, Alex Pearce will come in.
Shaun Cummings will continue at right-back with Chris Gunter still suffering from the hamstring injury he sustained in training a few weeks ago.
This game is likely to come too soon for Jimmy Kebe to return.
A game rearranged after it was cancelled earlier in the season due to a waterlogged pitch, both teams will be glad that they have a game in hand now, with a great chance to get an extremely important 3 points on the board.
These two sides make up the bottom three along with QPR now, though 4 points still separate the teams. A win for Sunderland could move them up to 15th in the table, but a loss would mean only a point between themselves and Reading, and will keep them well and truly in the relegation battle.
Sunderland have got just one point from their last four games, while Reading have not picked up any from their last four. This game is therefore crucial to both teams, and could well turn into something of a scrappy battle as a result. Both teams are desperate for a win, but Reading have been terrible on the road this season, and won't be likely to get their first away win here.
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