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Wembley clash with Arsenal awaits the victors

Steve Clarke

Reading take on Bradford City in an FA Cup quarter-final replay at the Madejski Stadium on Monday, with a clash against Arsenal in the last four at Wembley on the line.

The two sides played out a turgid 0-0 draw in the initial tie at Valley Parade two weeks ago, and Championship outfit Reading will start as favourites to progress.

Only once before have Reading reached the semi-finals of this famous competition, when they were beaten by 3-0 by Cardiff City in 1927.

The timing of the replay - just 48 hours after both clubs were in action in their respective leagues - has been criticised by many.

Reading boss Steve Clarke made nine changes to his side on Saturday for a 4-1 defeat at Watford, while Bradford's team for a 1-1 draw with Notts County showed six alterations. 

Clarke has called on the Reading faithful to spur his side on against Bradford, but says looking ahead to a possible semi-final against Arsenal could be dangerous.

"I don't think it [facing Arsenal] makes any difference whatsoever," he said.

"I think the game against Bradford is big enough in its own right and the reward of going through to an FA Cup semi-final is big enough in its own right.

"The home crowd are important. It's amazing how much the home support give the players a lift. It's something in football that's underrated."

Reading come into the game 17th in the Championship with just one win in their last five league outings, and Clarke said five players - whom he refused to identify - missed the trip to Watford with injury.

Bradford, meanwhile, are ninth in League One and still harbour hopes of a top-six finish and possible promotion back to the second tier.

City boss Phil Parkinson, a popular former player at Reading, has his sights set on a first semi-final for Bradford since they won this competition in 1911.

"For me personally, it will obviously be special to go back to Reading - I have a lot of fond memories from my time there - but obviously the main focus is on the prize of playing Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals," he said.

"We are really looking forward to this one. We will have a meeting with the staff in the hotel on Sunday night to decide what team we will pick for what will be an unbelievable occasion.

"I'm sure it will be a cracking atmosphere around the ground on Monday night and we can't wait for it."

Parkinson has an injury concern over defender Andrew Davies, who missed the draw at Notts County with an arm injury, while Ben Williams is expected to return in goal as loan signing Jak Alnwick is cup tied.




Tags: Bradford City | FA Cup | reading | soccer

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