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2014/15 Position Previews: Goalkeepers

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The first in our positional previews for the upcoming 2014/15 season sees Jonny take a look at the goalkeeping department. Extremely strong as has been the case in recent seasons, but it could be a different scenario this time next year...

Richard Heathcote

Alex McCarthy

With 44 Championship appearances last season, McCarthy should be first choice going into the coming season - although he and Adam Federici have shared goalkeeping duties in pre-season. If you're a believer in shirt numbers holding clues, then Federici kept his #1 shirt, with McCarthy changing to #20, although this was the same case last term as McCarthy wore #21 despite starting all but two Championship matches.

Whilst his distribution has long been called into question, there's no doubting his pure shot-stopping ability, and WhoScored.com nominated him as their Championship Goalkeeper Of The Year last term.

McCarthy has certainly done his time honing his skills, having loan spells at no less than eight different clubs before finally breaking into the Reading team during our last Premier League season - and, indeed, getting a call-up to the England squad last summer. Easy to forget, then, that he's only 24 and certainly has his best years ahead of him.

The problem the Royals have, and it's a similar story for all three "first team" keepers, is that McCarthy's contract runs out next June. A number of clubs have been linked, with Arsenal apparently sniffing around for the last six months, although their signing of Colombian international David Ospina will hopefully allay any fears that he'll head east down the M4. He could be headed west though, and follow another former Royal Gylfi Sigurdsson to Swansea - but they recently picked up Lukasz Fabianski on a free from the Gunners.

Reading have said that no transfer business will be conducted while the club is still in ownership limbo, and that could be a blessing in disguise for McCarthy fans if the takeover rumbles on until the August deadline. Then, it's just about persuading him to stay.

Adam Federici

The Aussie stopper made just two Championship appearances last term due to injury to Alex McCarthy, at home to Doncaster and Millwall in October. Federici gave away a late penalty in the latter match as the ten-man Lions snatched a draw, and he was quickly replaced again as soon as McCarthy returned to fitness. That made the goalkeeping heirarchy quite clear, in Nigel Adkins' mind at least.

It's been a case of deja vu for Federici, as he managed to displace former Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann due to the American's injury, going on to cement himself as the first choice 'keeper for three Championship seasons and the start of the last Premier League campaign. But then his own injury, and a loss of form, saw McCarthy replace the Aussie - and now the #20 is #1, with the #1 having to settle for #2.

Federici's own rise to glory is truly remarkable, from loan spells at Northwood and Carshalton Athletic to the Australian national team, but unfortunately the traditionally strong Reading goalkeeping department means that someone is left twiddling their thumbs when they clearly have enough ability to start week-in week-out. If McCarthy were to leave (and he's more likely to be in demand), then Royals fans would have no qualms about seeing Feds back between the sticks. But with his contract up in 2015 as well, it's a difficult juggling act to keep everyone happy.

Mikkel Andersen

Another Reading 'keeper who has come through the production line in the traditional manner - loan spells at Torquay, Rushden & Diamonds, Brentford, Brighton, Bristol Rovers and Portsmouth mean that the Dane still hasn't made an appearance for the Royals. He spent last season on loan at Danish side Randers, starting their first ten games before being displaced from the side, and not making a further appearance all season.

Whilst it's difficult to say exactly what Andersen's level is, he has experience at League One level and, at the age of 25, is still relatively young in goalkeeping terms. But with McCarthy and Federici currently ahead of him in the pecking order, his chances at Reading, as with most of his career, have been slim. He's been playing in the Royals' friendlies, which would suggest that Adkins has him in his plans, but he's also only contracted to the club for one more season. Having not started a single match for his parent club in his career, despite being here for seven years, one has to wonder whether Andersen will be at the Madejski past next June.

Stuart Moore, Dan Lincoln and Jon Henly

The goalkeeping department continues to churn out promising types as Moore, Lincoln and Henly progressed to senior football last season, all before the age of 20.

Henly, the oldest of the trio at 20, spent time on loan at Aldershot Town, Oxford United and Maidenhead Town last season, making sixteen appearances between the three clubs. He's also made Scotland appearances at youth level, having played for the U19s and been called up to the U21s.

Stuart Moore turns 20 in September and has already had loan spells at Gloucester City and Bath. He's already been playing matches for Basingstoke Town in pre-season, and so you'd expect he'll be getting more experience of senior football this campaign.

Dan Lincoln is the youngest of the trio, but he's also had time out on loan at Oxford United and Met Police. He was a part of the under-18s in 2012/13, who lost in the Premier League Academy final, and then he progressed to the under-21s last term, sharing U21 Premier League time with Moore and Henly.

With all three 'youth keepers progressing well, they're likely to follow the same trajectory as the three seniors - loan spells and sporadic first team appearances before being able to nail down their places. But with Moore and Henly's contracts both expiring in (you guessed it) June 2015, it'll be important to tie them down as well as at least one of the first teamers.

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Overall, the goalkeeping ranks are, as you'd expect from a Reading side in recent seasons, extremely strong. But come July 2015 and we could be talking a completely different scenario. The problem with such strength in depth is competition and keeping everyone happy, and for the three seniors, there will always be two who are unhappy. Still, there are worse problems to have in a squad - as will be highlighted throughout the week...