Reading v Derby County Preview

The Championship campaign gets underway on Friday night, as Reading host promotion hopefuls Derby County and much of the pre-match focus has been on the visiting manager.

Former Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard will oversee his first competitive game in charge of the Rams after opting to make a foray into management, replacing Gary Rowett at Pride Park after he made the switch to 6.00 Championship outright favourites Stoke City.

Derby are 5.50 to be promoted and Lampard will be expected to deliver from the get-go as a top six finish has to be the aim, and they should be able to get the better of the Royals in their curtain raiser.

Derby to win @ 2.40

Lampard has made some shrewd moves in the transfer market this summer and the capture of Florian Josefzoon is perhaps the most eye-catching.

The Dutch winger is a proven performer at this level, having impressed for previous club Brentford, and provides a real attacking threat.  Derby have also acquired defensive midfielder George Williams from their hosts and Jack Marriot from Peterborough, beating off plenty of competition for the highly-rated striker.

The Royals finished just above the relegation places last term, surviving by three points, and are among the favourites for the drop this season at 4.75. The Berkshire club have picked up a few decent players themselves this summer – particularly Andy Yiadom from Barnsley and Sam Baldock from Brighton – and may surprise a few people, but anything above a mid-table finish would have to be considered a massive success given their struggles last time out.

To add further intrigue to this fixture, former Derby boss Paul Clement is in the opposing dugout in his first full season in charge of the Royals, after replacing Jaap Stam towards the end of last season.

Clement was arguably harshly dismissed by the Rams just over two years ago and he would love to get one over on his former employers, but this could be too big of an ask given the circumstances.

Lampard may be inexperienced as a boss but he should bring in a ‘new manager bounce’ regardless.  The 40-year-old is regarded as one of England’s greatest ever midfielders and if that doesn’t provide extra motivation for his players in the early stages of his tenure nothing will, so expect Derby to be fired up for this one.

Harry Wilson anytime goalscorer @ 3.75

Lampard moved to bring in 21-year-old winger Harry Wilson on loan from Liverpool, in an excellent piece of business for the Championship club.

The Wales international managed seven goals in 13 league appearances for an average Hull side last season in a brief temporary stint.

It remains to be seen how Derby will line-up in Lampard’s first game in charge so going for a goalscorer bet is a little tricky, but Wilson showed he knows where the goal is last term and even if he only gets a chance as a second-half substitute, he still looks a strong contender to find the back of the net at anytime.