Championship Preview: Clarke begins at Watford
Nigel Adkins paid the price for an inconsistent start to the season - including 10 defeats from 21 games - as Steve Clarke was drafted in to replace him this week.
The Scot had been out of work for a year and two days after being sacked by West Brom last season, but has now been tasked with improving the club's standing of 16th in the second tier.
Reading co-chairwoman Lady Sasima Srivikorn said: "We have appointed Steve because of his proven history as a manager and coach.
"We have chosen a leader who can develop our players and help them perform to the best of their ability.
"We look forward to moving up the league and the board share the view that we have found the right man in Steve."
Adkins was sacked after last week's 6-1 mauling at Birmingham City, and Reading head to a resurgent Watford side who have responded from four defeats on the spin with consecutive victories to keep them in the play-off picture.
In the hunt for top spot, Middlesbrough will face a second test of their title credentials in as many games as they travel to Ipswich Town.
Aitor Karanka will return to the touchline after serving a suspension in last week's 2-0 win over Derby County, which leaves Boro behind leaders Bournemouth on goals scored alone.
"No one's getting carried away," said Middlesbrough captain Grant Leadbitter ahead of the scrap with his previous club. "It's going to be a very tough going down to Portman Road."
Bournemouth beat Cardiff City 5-3 last time out to assume pole position, and next up for Eddie Howe's men is a trip to rock-bottom Blackpool.
Although eight points adrift of safety, Blackpool have made great strides since Lee Clark assumed control, and will be out to make it five games unbeaten.
Derby are at home to seventh-placed Norwich City, while Brentford, who have won six of their last seven to climb two points off the pace, are at mid-table Cardiff City.
Leeds United and Nottingham Forest will meet at the City Ground after a week that saw both handed transfer embargoes for the rest of the season for breaching Financial Fair Play rules. Blackburn Rovers were also punished and will face Charlton Athletic.
Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday host Fulham in a mid-table clash, while Huddersfield Town and Birmingham City square off each hoping to haul themselves clear of danger.
Relegation-threatened pair Brighton and Hove Albion and Wigan Athletic respectively visit Wolves and entertain fourth-bottom Rotherham United.
Millwall and Bolton Wanderers, both hovering just above the drop zone, kick off the action in Friday's fixture.