News and Views

Royals Rely On Youth As Robson Kanu And Others Leave

09 May 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading look set to rely on academy graduates next season as the club confirmed the departure of three senior first team players and declared they planned to "strengthen from within" during the summer. After a disappointing season, that saw the Royals finish 17th in the Championship after picking up just a single point from their last seven games, the club's owners released a carefully drafted statement. Although clearly a simple PR exercise, the statement failed to back Brian McDermott and appeared to make it clear there will be very limited funds for new players during the summer.

The departure of a large number of loan players has been followed up by the confirmed departure of Simon Cox, Hal Robson Kanu and Anton Ferdinand. As a result, the Royals are already guaranteed to have a very different squad when they kick off the 2016/2017 season. None of the three players, who are being released following the end of their contracts, are big surprises to be leaving. Hal Robson Kanu was obviously attempting to negotiate a too high value new contract meaning the club have shown him the door instead of improved terms. Simon Cox was always likely to leave after a unsuccessful loan spell at Bristol City was followed by a recall to the Reading side that failed to produce goals. It was a tough time to return to Reading with the team struggling for form and failing to create chances.

Anton Ferdinand had some great games at Reading but will leave after two years at the club in which he only managed 26 appearances thanks to a first season write off due to injury.

It still feels a real shame to see Hal Robson Kanu leave the club. He certainly had his critics but was one of the sides better players this season and the team clearly missed him when he was forced to miss the last part of the season through injury. Robson Kanu turned professional at Reading a full nine years ago and went on to make 227 appearances, scoring 30 goals for the Royals. With Simon Cox leaving it feels like the remaining links with the past are being removed. One of the few "Reading" people left will be manager Brian McDermott and it seems even he has limited backing from the club's Thai owners.

On the plus side, the use of graduating academy players could be a really good thing. The youth team has had well publicised success, and there are a lot of players already making claims for first team places. A number of those who look set to move into the first team next season have had impressive spells at loan and picked up plenty of experience they can put into good use in the Championship. Josh Barrett has already played a part in the final league games and Tennai Watson has been a regular on the bench. Rob Dickie made his debut as Reading lost 1-3 to Blackburn on Saturday.

There are also players that have featured in the past for the first team before going out on loan. Aaron Kuhl is still only 20 years old, and returns from Dundee United to be offered a contract extension at Reading. Kuhl had already made 8 first team appearances and will be expecting to try and earn a place with loan midfielders leaving the club. Andrija Novakovich looked set to play for Reading this season after playing a couple of times at the end of the 2014/2015 season but instead went out on loan to Cheltenham where he played four times. Novakovich has also had his contract extended.

Before the new season gets underway we will almost certainly see more experienced players out of the door, leaving room for the youth to come through. After this season's failed attempts to use loan players it feel much better to be relying on our young players. Steve Clarke got it wrong with his loan signings, but McDermott is the ideal man to make use of his young prospects with his vast experience of Reading Football Club. With the wage bill substantially cut and low value contracts for academy players there may be some cash for a couple of signings to add some depth to the squad.

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