When the FA Cup draw was made, one fixture immediately stood out as a potential giant-killing: Manchester United versus Reading.

The Royals, under the refreshing management of former United stalwart Jaap Stam, will visit Old Trafford for the early kick-off in the third round, to face a revitalised United.

Jose Mourinho’s side have won their last seven fixtures in all competitions, scoring 14 goals and conceding just three, but Reading have been on a mini-streak of their own, winning their last three encounters to sit third in the Championship.

Nasri could face four-year doping ban

Confidence is high at the Madejski Stadium; they are just six points behind Newcastle United, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot, and remain six ahead of Derby County, the first team outside of the play-off positions.

Thus their preparations have not been altered as they prepare to take on one of the biggest clubs in world football.

Goal interviewed the club’s Head of Nutrition, Ed Clark, ahead of the game to get an insight into how the club got themselves ready for one of the biggest fixtures of the season and the answer is disarmingly simple; by changing nothing at all.

"We are treating it like any other game,” he said when quizzed on the fixture. “It's 11 people on a football pitch and we try to do everything we can do to prepare for a game, whether it's Manchester United or anybody else, it's just another game. We don't change our focus, we just keep doing what we're doing.”

Any jokey suggestions that Reading could potentially use spinach to ‘Popeye up’ their players were also laughed off, though a super-food smoothie is on the menu if players so desire it.

"We do use quite a lot of spinach down here,” he laughed. “We have some nice smoothies the chefs knock up that they throw some spinach in but not anything specific to Popeye them up!"

Though Reading will not alter their approach, Clark has praised Stam for not attempting to reinvent the wheel following his appointment at the club.

The Dutchman, he says, has simply allowed those working in the nutritional department to carry on with their jobs.

When asked if Stam had followed down the route of previously controversial managers who have banned foods such as ketchup, Clark replied: "I've heard about that kind of stuff before but no, he's come in and he's trusted us and given us his backing as he believes in the kind of stuff we've been doing here beforehand and given his seal of approval almost.

Forget Zizou - Ranieri is the coach of the year

“There's not been anything specific he's wanted from his side of things, he listens to us as practitioners and trusts us and that's one of the best things that we've had with the gaffer, he really believes in our side of things and he's given us his full backing. That's so important when it comes to things like that, that message of support when it comes from the gaffer. It makes life a hell of a lot easier."

Clark, though, is under no illusions as to the difference nutrition can make. It is, he says, the difference between being a “good player” and a “great one”.

“When you're focusing at the top end of the Premier League you're really looking for those tiny, marginal gains that you can get from nutrition,” he added when asked about the differences up and down the leagues.

Pogba predicts who will top Messi & CR7

“If you're up that end you have the budgets and the money to have all the best chefs, and the best supplements, and the best knowledge behind everything. When you're at the lower end you won't have that money to support yourselves with the top-class chefs or the supplements so I suppose the focus then is making sure you get the basics right.

"Get them ticked off and work on the football stuff, I've always thought that the nutrition stuff is the final five or 10 per cent that takes you from being a good player to a great player and obviously there's different skills up and down the league.

“It's important for absolutely everybody, it can make such a difference to anyone's performance and getting those basics right is really simple, it just takes some time and practice and dedication to it and you can make big changes."