News and Views

Ali Al Habsi Departure Confirmed

17 July 2017
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading will be continuing their hunt for a new goalkeeper after Ali Al Habsi completed his move to Saudi Arabia, where he has signed a three year contract with Al-Hilal. Al Habsi, who signed a new contract with Reading in the January, used a release clause to return closer to home. He made 91 appearances for the Royals and become a firm fan favourite thanks to his reliable performances. The Royals are left with Anssi Jaakkola and George Legg as possible first team goalkeepers currently with Bond joining Peterborough. Jaakkola made three league cup appearances after signing last summer. 21 year old Legg has been building up experience out on loan. Although Jaakkola may step up to the role Stam will continue to look for a new first choice shot stopper.

Meanwhile, new signing Jon Dadi Bodvarsson has joined the squad out in Holland as their pre-season tour continues. The Icelandic player signs from Wolves on a three year contract after an indifferent season where he struggled to hold down a place in the side. Despite scoring on his debut for Wolves in a League Cup draw at Rotherham, Bodvarsson finished the season with just three goals. He featured in nearly all games but was limited to late appearances from the bench towards the end of the season. It will be interesting to see how he fits in at Reading, and you can't help but feel there may be another striker on the way into the club.

Fellow striker Yann Kermorgant won't be taking part in the pre-season schedule in Holland or back in the UK after a training incident caused an injury to his hip that is expected to see him miss the start of the season. With Reading's top goalscorer having to wait before getting his campaign underway, in what will be his last season before retirement, the pressure will be on Bodvarsson - or another new signing - to find some goalscoring form.

Reading have already used the tour in Holland to test players fitness and try out a lot of the squad, but the results in Saturday's games were disappointing as the Royals went down 0-1 against KV Kortrijk and then drew 2-2 with Genclerbirligi. Stam opted for a very young side against Kortrijk to see which players may be able to make the jump to the first team this season. The draw saw a more experienced side take to the pitch, and Reading had to come from behind twice to draw thanks to goals from Popa and Roy Beerens.

It is the same again for Reading next Saturday, 22 July, as they play two more games on the same day in Holland. The two games will allow Stam to look at almost his entire squad in action across the day.

With so many young players released already this summer the squad is looking thinner than usual. There is a real opportunity for players turning professional, such as Danny Loader, to make a real impression in pre-season as Jaap Stam weighs up his transfer options. It's still early days and plenty more transfer activity is expected between now and the start of the new Championship season.

Players In So Far:

  • Pelle Clement (Ajax)
  • Jon Dadi Bodvarsson (Wolves)

Players Out So Far:

  • Ali Al Habsi (Al-Hilal)
  • Danny Williams (Huddersfield Town)
  • Niall Keown (Partick Thistle)
  • Zak Jules (Shrewsbury Town)
  • Jack Stacey (Luton Town)
  • Tariqe Fosu (Charlton Athletic)
  • Craig Tanner (Motherwell)
  • Sean Long (Lincoln City)
  • Dominic Hyam (Coventry City)
  • Aaron Kuhl (Out of contract)
  • Stuart Moore (Out of contract)
  • Harrison Bennett (Out of contract)
  • Joe Tupper (Out of contract)
  • Terence Vancooten (Out of contract)
  • Jack Denton (Out of contract)
  • Harry Cardwell (Out of contract)

Players Out On Loan So Far:

  • Danzell Gravenberch (loan to KSV Roeselare)
  • Andrija Novakovich (loan to Telstar)
  • Jonathan Bond (loan to Peterborough)
  • Deniss Rakels (loan to Lech Poznan)

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