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Stuart Dalgleish 12th Mar 2011 - 23:22

Can City pass their Reading test?

Manchester City v Reading - Sunday 16:45 live on ITV1

Man City (2/5) take on Reading (8/1, draw 16/5) looking to reach their first FA Cup semi-final in 20 years.

The Citizens will be going in to the tie on a bit of a downer, having lost 2-0 to Dynamo Kiev in the Europa League on Thursday and will want to avoid 'doing an Arsenal' by blowing their big chance to end their silverware drought.

Of course, City have been waiting a lot longer than Arsenal to win a major trophy as their neighbours keep reminding them, but you can't help but think that if Roberto Mancini doesn't deliver a title of some sort in the next couple of seasons, he won't be allowed the same luxury of time that Mr Wenger has.

This would be the perfect opportunity for the Italian to get the trophy ball rolling, win this tie and you're in a major semi-final and then it's down to a test of nerves on the big stage of Wembley.

You'd have to think that City should have no problems getting through this one, but then Liverpool thought that last season, and Everton thought that in the last round, if Mancini is complacent in his team selection he could end up with egg on his face.

One change that could be enforced on the Italian is up front, where Mario Balotelli (7/2 first goal) is a doubt after going off in midweek, Carlos Tevez (5/2) replaced him and I'd imagine he will line up alongside Edin Dzeko (10/3).

The Bosnian has played in two FA Cup games and scored in both of them, however he's yet to score in the Premier League from seven matches; if Balotelli is going to be out of the team for a large period of time, he really needs to start putting the ball in the back of the net.

One player who has been finding the net recently is David Silva (11/2), the little Spanish schemer is really finding his feet in England after an average start to the season and has two goals in his last three matches, he appeals at 6/4 to strike at anytime, certainly in comparison to some of the other any time prices available.

Another price that really stands out for an anytime scorer is Ian Harte (20/1 first, 7/1 any), the former Leeds ace is a deadly exponent of a free-kick, and also gets up for corners to cause a nuisance in the opponents box, the Irishman has eight to his name this season and will certainly get chances at Eastlands.

Another Irish player, Shane Long, has really been banging them in this season for the Royals; he has 20 in all competitions and is worth a few quid at 8/1 for the opener, 11/4 to strike in 90 minutes.

Reading are on a great run at the minute, having not lost in seven matches and won't be a pushover for City, it's testament to Brian McDermott that they've had this good form considering their injury list seems to grow on a weekly basis.

Regular keeper Adam Federici has missed the last five games with a medial ligament injury, captain Matt Mills (who scored the winner at Everton) came off against Ipswich during the week with a groin problem, Jobi McAnuff (20/1) hasn't played since the last round with an ankle injury, then you've got Shaun Cummings, Andy Griffin and Alex Pearce still on the sidelines.

An injury plagued campaign is pretty much the reason why Reading haven't been in the play-off mix, but they have certainly given it a good go over the last few months.

The silver lining for the Berkshire based side, is that they should be able to fully concentrate on the top six come 18:30 Sunday evening, but the greedy fans might just want a possible two trips to Wembley before the season's out.



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