Reading boss Brian McDermott is boosted by the return of defender Zurab Khizanishvili for the home clash with Derby.

The on-loan Georgia international missed Sunday`s FA Cup defeat at the hands of Aston Villa as he was cup-tied after playing for Blackburn against Villa in the third round of the competition.

Khizanishvili will come into contention for a starting role but midfielder Jem Karacan remains absent with a hand injury.

Kalifa Cisse (dead leg) may be back to bolster the Royals` midfield but Noel Hunt and Chris Armstrong remain long-term injury absentees.

McDermott's men picked up no new injuries against Villa and the Reading boss insists his players can take heart from their spirited display at the weekend.

Villa won 4-2, but McDermott said: "We gave them as tough a game as they'll have all season."

Derby captain Robbie Savage and defenders Shaun Barker and Jay McEveley are expected to be fit.

Midfielder Savage and Barker are nursing slight knocks following Saturday`s home win over Watford but it is anticipated that both players will be available.

Left-back McEveley is also carrying a minor injury but he too should come back into contention after a two-match suspension.

"All three have knocks but we expect them to be training on Tuesday and travelling with us for the game on Wednesday night," said Rams coach Andy Garner.

However, leading scorer Rob Hulse is a doubt. The 10-goal striker was replaced after 75 minutes against Watford after complaining of a hamstring problem.

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