Written by: Adam Jones
At Reading Football Club, we’ve nearly always given youth a chance in the first team. Whilst some of our graduates have gone on to have varying success in their careers, we are always hopeful that every single player that is going to come through the ranks at Reading has a major impact on the first team.
This season has been dreadful so far. However, there has been one shining star in a very dark campaign. This is the emergence of Andy Rinomhota. Joining as a then-17 year old from AFC Porchester, this was a shrewd signing by Steve Clarke, who made the decision to sign Rinomhota after impressing on trial. His progress in just under four years, going from a non-league player to a Championship midfielder, has impressed many. It’s evident that Reading sorely miss his presence in the centre of midfield. This just shows how important he has become to the Royals, after being given a chance to shine this season.
He’s not the only academy graduate who has been given the chance to impress this season. Gabriel Osho have Tom McIntyre have also featured for Reading this campaign. They were both praised heavily by the Royals supporters after putting in solid performances for the club. It’s only a matter of time before they are involved with the first team again. However, Osho is out on loan at Bristol Rovers until the end of the season.
Danny Loader has also featured for Reading this season. The 18 year old has already made a huge impact on the under 23s squad in the past year. Whilst his performances in the senior side have not been groundbreaking, he is only a teenager who will potentially go on to play for his country. This is something I’m confident about. Ryan East, Josh Barrett and Michael Olise may also feature for Reading later on in the season after training with the first team for a while under manager Jose Gomes.
Liam Kelly and Omar Richards are two players who featured heavily through last season, which was another torrid campaign. Kelly is currently frozen out of the first team after a string of poor performances, but I’m sure he will recapture his form which impressed so many in the 2016/17 season. Richards put in a fantastic debut performance against Derby County at Pride Park during the 2017/18 season, he will be looking to display similar performances in the near future so he can regain his place in the starting eleven.
There are several young players out on loan at the moment. This is the list of those plying their trade elsewhere away from their parent club of the Royals: Luke Southwood, George Legg, Lewis Ward, Tennai Watson, Ramarni Meford-Smith, Darren Sideol, Andrija Novakovich, Ben House and Sam Smith.
The first three names on that list are all goalkeepers. Luke Southwood in particular is a very exciting prospect. His inclusion in England youth internationals is something that should not be underestimated by Reading supporters. Personally, I would love to see him come back and be an understudy to a new goalkeeper in the senior squad next season. He has the potential to do brilliantly, but he will need to step up to the plate after mainly playing youth and non league football for most of his career thus far.
Tennai Watson is another promising name who could come rival Andy Yiadom and Chris Gunter for the first choice right back spot next season if he continues his good progress with AFC Wimbeldon.
However, the most exciting name that’s taking the attention of Royals fans is Andrija Novakovich. His progression with Fortuna Sittard in the Eredivisie, playing against teams like Ajax and PSV, is a huge cause for optimism within Reading Football Club.
Which of the experienced heads are going to form the spine of team with several loanees going back to their parent club in the summer? Andy Yiadom, Liam Moore, Jordan Obita, John Swift, Garath McCleary and Modou Barrow could all make a huge impact next season forming the base of a team that has the ability to do a lot better than it currently is.
With an experienced spine in place, sprinkled with academy players and graduates, exciting times could be on the horizon for Reading Football Club. Our reputation for giving young players a chance is something that I would like to stay in our DNA. Our club needs that identity to succeed and flourish, may long the faith in youth continue.