NEWPORT’S Chris Gunter looks set to miss out on tonight’s cup clash with Newport County AFC as Reading manager Nigel Adkins gives youth a chance.
Wales international Gunter, who captained the Championship club for Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Wigan Athletic, is among a host of big names set to be rested for the Capital One Cup tie against the Exiles.
The 25-year-old looks likely to be watching from the stands at the Madejski Stadium as Justin Edinburgh’s men look to repeat their shock win at Brighton in the same stage last season.
New signing Anton Ferdinand could start for the Royals and former Newcastle United man Danny Guthrie could also be fit to play tonight (kick-off 8pm).
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is likely to start after Adam Federici got the nod against Wigan at the weekend but otherwise the team will be made up of the club’s under-21 and fringe players.
Gunter’s fellow Wales international Hal Robson-Kanu is not expected to return from a knee injury for another six weeks.
He is joined on the sidelines by long term absentees Jem Karacan (knee), Danny Williams (knee) and Garath McCleary (back).
Reading boss Adkins said: “We’ve got young players here who have got a heart and a feel for the club.
“Many have come through the youth system.
“I’m excited about this group and I’m sure the supporters will get right behind them this season.
“But let’s just take the pressure away from them so they can go out and play with freedom.”
With an average age of just 22, Reading’s squad is one the youngest in the Championship.
Aaron Kuhl, Aaron Tshibola, Craig Tanner and Jack Stacey all played last season as they helped the Reading under-21s beat teams like Arsenal and Manchester City on their way to winning the Premier League Cup.
“I’m going to take as much pressure away from them as I can and direct it at myself,” added Adkins.
“I have always had a history of doing that with young players, a lot of whom are now doing ever so well at the very top level. We have to look after the youngsters and I’m sure the supporters understand that.
“There’s nothing better than seeing a homegrown player coming through.”
County fans are being asked to allow an extra ten to 15 minutes for their journey home tonight due to work on the M4.
The westbound carriageway between junctions 11 and 12 will be closed from 11pm until 6am tomorrow morning.