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Reading's XI

It feels like Summer has only just started, but the team are already back in for the start of pre-season so I've decided to take a look at what team we could put out if the season started today. With the only real loss being Le Fondre, who was so often found on the bench anyway, plus our previously announced releasees it's not too far from the team that finished the season. With the return of Karacan, and other players hopefully being able to recuperate after the impressive amount of knocks our team seemed to pick up in the second half of the season, it may even be stronger.

4-2-3-1 seems to Adkins' preferred way to line up any side, and our only real weaknesses could be on the left wing - Blackman (although HRK is another option) generally looked solid last season even if his rocky start lives long in the memory, but he needs to improve his final ball if he was given the winger role permanently - and our lack of pace at the back - I went with Morro and Pearce as I think that's the way Adkins will go, but Hector, in my mind, is probably well worth a starting place this season. It'd work perfectly well as an old fashioned 4-5-1, with Karacan as the holding midfielder, Williams and Guthrie in the center of the park, and the two wingers playing in a slightly more conservative role on the flanks.

There is a possibility of a much more orthodox 4-4-2, pushing Blackman up front and Obita into his more natural position on the wing, with Kelly or Cummings could then come in at left back alternatively HRK could come in on the wing/up front. That does sacrifice one of the CM three who could be so crucial to the team, with Williams the most likely to miss out. We could also give Obita and Gunter a much freer role in a 5-3-2, but then there's no room in the side for McCleary - who contributed 12 assists from his wing last season - and we'd lose the wing play that has been crucial aspect of Reading side's play.

However they do line up it's clear that there's little serious cover in any position, and hopefully our dealings in the transfer market will change that. If the reports are right, and Adkins has been handed £10m - when the sale of the club goes through - then I think that'd go a long way to helping us avoid an injury crisis like in the last season.

Either way a new striker, or two, is a priority, Billy Sharp is probably the most obvious candidate, but whether he'd even want to come back to the Madejski after his reception during his loan spell. In 21 starts he only scored six times this season, although three quarters of those were in a struggling Doncaster side. We're reportedly also chasing Cardiff City's Joe Mason, who spent last season on loan at Bolton. He found the net six times in sixteen matches, and played a crucial part in Bolton's late season resurgency, when he scored five times in eight games.

One of a left winger - if Obita is happy to continue playing further back - or a left back - as Adkins doesn't appear to rate either of the other possibilities in that position - is also a fairly fundamental piece of this season's potential puzzle.

However, I'm fairly confident that as long as our side stay fully fit, and there's no more players leaving the club - other than the ongoing Drenthe saga, then we're in for another good season of performing slightly below expectations. First thing's first though, let's get this takeover sorted.


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