WANTED: A striker or two for promotion push

Pogrebnyak could be off this summer, but would he be missed? - Richard Heathcote

Reading haven't replaced Long, two years after his move to West Brom. Now, with the Royals hoping for an instant return to the Premiership, it looks like an area that will need strengthening.

This summer, Nigel Adkins has released Jay Tabb, Noel Hunt, Nicky Shorey, Ian Harte amongst others. In came Wayne Bridge, Royston Drenthe and Danny Williams. Pearce, after a season of uncertainty, has signed a new contract as has Hal Robson-Kanu.

So, a good summer so far. Last season's top scorer Adam Le Fondre is still on the books and unlikely to leave. Last summer's so-called 'super signing' Pavel Pogrebnyak is still around - but let's stop there.

Pogrebnyak only managed 5 goals in 29 Premiership games, a poor return for a man who scored six goals in 12 games whilst on loan at Fulham at the tail end of the 2011/12 season.

There are so many things you can say about Pogrebnyak, but the one word that has floated around him this summer has been 'disinterested'. Rumours of a relegation release clause, a move back to Russian sides, a link back to Fulham have all been bandied about and yet here we are, the morning before the first game of 2013/14 and he's still on the Reading books.

Will we see him start? The majority of Reading fans will hope not. After last season and this summer, the majority of loyal Royals would love to see the back of him and for the Royals to bring in a proven replacement.

This, however, is not a rant about the big Russian.

This is a striker conundrum.

Not since Shane Long two years ago have Reading been able to field the same striker week after week, knowing that they will get good performance out of them. There have been flashes of brilliance and the odd game where a striker looks to be the next jewel of the front line, only to flop the next week.

Even if Adkins does keep Pogrebnyak, there are only 2 proven higher tier strikers on the books, with the likes of Blackman, Samuel and Ugwu all still yet to be given a crack at the Championship and Roberts struggling with injury.

The likes of Hooper and Austin have been linked to the Royals, with many on Twitter drooling over the prospect of such solid goalscorers turning out in the blue and white hoops.

Both have joined new clubs this summer, with Hooper joining Norwich in the Premier League and Austin signing fellow promotion hopefuls QPR.

So, who next?

The one remaining name that is floating about (and reported by The Times) is a fellow by the name of Mike Havenaar - a striker who turns out for Vitesse in the Eredivisie. A giant Japanese striker, standing at 6'4" he's been rumoured to be the perfect striker for the system. Tall, athletic, a keen eye for goal and affordable. Those rumours gathered pace as he was left out of the Vitesse pre season game - but in the week following that report, nothing new has emerged. Whether it's a move being kept under wraps or a fee yet to be agreed, you can be sure if this is a move that will happen it won't be for a while yet.

Other than Havenaar, Cardiff City striker Etien Velikonja has been linked with a loan-to-buy deal, but those reports have been refuted by the Red Dragons. Another striker who would be able to play the lone striker role, it's a shame this hasn't gathered more pace, if anything just to give Reading fans something to get excited about.

Why sign anyone?

Hal Robson-Kanu has recently come out and said that he sees himself as more of a central player - whether that's as a striker or slightly deeper, it's certainly an interesting idea. He's certainly one of the best finishers at the club and has the strength and pace to make it as a striker, but is Adkins willing to give him a go? It could go brilliantly, or it could not. It's a risk, and one the majority of fans would want to see come off, but during such a big season is it worth it?

Other than Robson-Kanu, our Category One academy has churned out a number of players recently, with Dominic Samuel and Gozie Ugwu recently graduating a staking a claim to be involved in the first team. Indeed, Samuel made his debut last season under McDermott before being loaned to Colchester for a month, but has yet to score at senior level.

Ugwu is another striker who banged in the goals whilst in the academy and has had loan moves to Yeovil and Plymouth, with 3 goals in 21 games. THese two are unproven and would be a huge gamble, but if it is a gamble that pays off it could lead to not only promotion, but a hefty price tag for the club to demand if any so-called 'bigger' clubs start snooping around. This, of course, is all hypothetical.

Don't forget that Jason Roberts is still around but struggling with injury. Despite the view that he's close to hanging up the boots and moving into media, you can't deny he would be a good player in the Championship and if he is to gain fitness, would bag a number of goals for the promotion cause.

One player we could regret allowing to move on, Uche Ikpeazu. He moved to Watford on a free, with compensation set to be agreed, but it could be a player we look back on and think "that's one we let go...", almost like a Simon Cox Mk II. It will be interesting to see how he does at Watford, and if gets any game time at Vicarage Road; presumably that's the reason he left, with game time unlikely to be given to him in the near future.

So, certainly, striker is a position we need to strengthen if promotion is to be achieved. But who's available? Who's around? Who's affordable?

We can only hope that Adkins, Hammond and the scouting team know what they're doing.

Do the Royals need a striker (or two)? Can they get promoted without? Let us know in the comment section below.

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