West Ham United continue preparations for the 2021/22 season with a pre-season fixture at EFL Championship side Reading on Wednesday evening.
The Irons will wear their new Umbro Home Kit for the first time, and you can get your hands on it now either by visiting our Online Store here, or by visiting one of our four Club Stores.
The Hammers will play their fourth warm-up fixture of the summer at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, having previously won 2-1 at Northampton Town and drawn 2-2 and 0-0 at Dundee and Leyton Orient respectively.
With just three-and-a-half weeks until the opening Premier League fixture at Newcastle United, David Moyes' players will build up their fitness levels and match sharpness on what promises to be a warm evening in Berkshire.
Wednesday's game will see Moyes' squad take on a Reading team which finished seventh in the Championship last season, just one place outside the Play-Offs, and with high hopes of returning to the Premier League at the end of the upcoming campaign.
Due to COVID protocols in place at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, only 6,000 Reading fans will be in attendance. West Ham supporters will not be present, but you can watch the game on a live stream via whufc.com and our social media channels.
David Moyes potentially welcomes a number of international players back into his squad for this game, as Łukasz Fabiański, Pablo Fornals and Saïd Benrahma have all returned to training at Rush Green this week.
The trio were all given time off after being called-up by their respective nations over the summer, but will now turn their focus 100% to the Claret and Blue cause.
Five first-team players remain away on international duty or post-UEFA Euro 2020 breaks - Winston Reid is at the Tokyo Olympic Games with New Zealand, while Declan Rice, Vladimír Coufal, Tomáš Souček and Andriy Yarmolenko are recovering after excelling for their respective countries at the Euros.
Reading have yet to make any permanent signings this summer.
The Royals will also be without an unnamed player who tested positive for COVID-19 during their recent pre-season training camp in Scotland and is now isolating. However, the remainder of Veljko Paunović's squad have since returned negative tests and Wednesday's hosts completed their trip to St Andrews with an 11v11 training game.
The opposition – Reading
As mentioned in the introduction, Reading enjoyed a resurgent 2020/21 season, finishing seventh in the Championship with 70 points.
The arrival of former Atlético Madrid attacker and Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunović as manager in September 2020 served as the catalyst for an immediate improvement in results and performances.
And, after finishing 20th, 20th and 14th in each of the previous three seasons, the Royals mounted a sustained challenge for a Play-Off place that was only scuppered by a run of six games without a win to end the campaign.
Reading's strong season was based around the goals of Portuguese centre-forward Lucas João (22) and Ivory Coast striker Yakou Méïté (12), while French teenager Michael Olise added an impressive seven goals and 12 assists. Olise has since departed for Crystal Palace, but João and Méïté remain and their goals will be vital to Reading's chances of pushing for promotion again in 2021/22.
Owned by Chinese company Renhe since 2017, Reading will celebrate their 150th anniversary on Christmas Day 2021.
The Royals joined the Football League in 1920, won the Third Division South title in 1926 and reached their first FA Cup semi-final in 1927, setting their all-time home attendance record of 33,042 for their fifth-round win over Brentford in the process.
Reading were relegated to the third tier again in 1931 and did not return to the top two divisions until 1986. In the meantime, the club resisted an attempt by Oxford United chairman Robert Maxwell to merge the Royals with their near-neighbours into a single club named Thames Valley Royals.
A Simod Cup success followed in 1988, with Reading beating Luton Town in the final on their first visit to Wembley Stadium, but the Royals were relegated to the Third Division again the same year.
The arrival of new owner John Madejski and manager Mark McGhee in 1991 led to improvement and Reading moved back to the second tier in 1994, and they only missed out on promotion to the Premier League in 1995 because the top-flight was reduced from 22 clubs to 20, despite finishing second.
After being relegated again, Reading moved to their new Madejski Stadium in 1998 and won promotion under future West Ham United manager Alan Pardew in 2003. Pardew then guided the Royals to the Division One Play-Offs before departing for the Boleyn Ground in late 2004.
His replacement, Steve Coppell, led Reading to the Premier League for the first time in 2006, and then to an eighth-place finish in 2006/07. They were relegated in 2008, bounced back under Brian McDermott in 2012, but were then relegated again in 2013.
They have remained in the Championship for the past eight seasons, narrowly avoiding relegation on at least three occasions, but hopes are now higher following an impressive 2020/21 campaign.
West Ham United and Reading have not faced one another since 19 May 2013, when Kevin Nolan's perfect hat-trick helped the Hammers record a 4-0 Premier League win at the Boleyn Ground. Andy Carroll was also on target that day as the Irons completed a miserable season for the Royals, who had already been relegated to the Championship.
The Irons' most-recent win at Reading came on 1 September 2007, when Matty Etherington (two) and Craig Bellamy were on target for Alan Curbishley's team in a 3-0 Premier League win.
The two clubs were regular adversaries in the Southern League First Division days before both joined the Football League, meeting 30 times in the competition between 1899 and 1915. The pair then met in war-time league matches between 1915-16 and again between 1941-44.
West Ham and Reading would then meet four times in the old Southern Floodlit Cup in the late 1950s, but it was not until September 2001 that they met again, with the Royals prevailing on penalties in a League Cup second round tie in Berkshire.
When it comes to league meetings, the first was at the Boleyn Ground in September 2003, when Christian Dailly's goal settled matters in Division One.
How can I follow the game?
As mentioned, only 6,000 Reading fans will be admitted to the Select Car Leasing Stadium, with no West Ham United supporters permitted to attend Wednesday's game.
However, you can watch the game on a live stream on whufc.com and our social media channels, followed by post-match reaction, goals and extended highlights.