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Tilehurst End Debate: To Renew, Or Not To Renew Part One

Eleven Reading FC first team players are out of contract next summer. With some of those players' recent performances raising doubts about their long-term futures at the club, we at the Tilehurst End decided to sit down and have it out on who we'd keep, who we're still unsure on, and those who we think should be heading for the exit. Here's the first half of our debate...

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Adam Federici

Bucks - YES: Certain yes for me. He's a great goalie at this level and has been an integral part of this side for years - even when McCarthy was number one, it was great to have someone as good as Federici as backup.

Hoops - YES: Undoubtedly the best goalkeeper at the club, he also comes with some experience and leadership skills. Don't let him out of your sight, Nigel!

Jonny - YES: Adam is still a very good Championship keeper, has been at the club for ten years, and still has a few years at his peak at the age of 29.

Marc - YES: Vital, experienced, Premiership quality keeper. At any cost.

Will - YES: An experienced, international keeper who three seasons ago was the best in the division. A mid-table team like Reading are unlikely to find a better keeper around.

Wimb - MAYBE: This would be an automatic yes for me but for the fact that Federici's reportedly on a very good wage right now. That means that unless he's happy to take a significant pay cut I'd take my chances with another young keeper.


Mikkel Andersen

Bucks - YES: I feel a bit sorry for Mikkel Andersen actually. He waited for years to make his debut and now it seems that he might have to wait another few years to dislodge Federici! I wouldn't begrudge him leaving for regular football, but I'd love to keep him on. If Federici was to leave, he'd make a more than capable replacement.

Hoops - NO: Undoubtedly a talented goalkeeper, I've gone for the NO option because I think he needs weekly game time to fulfil his potential, and he’s not going to get that at the Madejski Stadium. It’s for the best, Mikkel.

Jonny - YES: If he is willing to accept being a backup. However, he's been here since 2007 and has only made one league start for the Royals - he may want a fresh start.

Marc - YES: Cheap back-up. Allows kids to go on loan.

Will - YES: He didn't put a foot wrong in his two games earlier this season so I'd be happy to see him stay at the club. I expect him to go though. At 25 he may feel he is too old to just sit on the bench every week.

Wimb - YES: Valuable asset here as a number two and still has the potential to be the number one. I imagine Mikkel will decide his own future though based on whether Feds pens a new deal.


Chris Gunter

Bucks - YES: More of a complicated one this, as Gunter's had a pretty poor season so far. That said, last season he was consistently solid, and that's enough in my eyes to justify a contract renewal.

Hoops - YES: Despite his poor form, he’s another player with leadership skills and it’s easy to forget how solid and consistent he was last season. It would be nonsense to let him slip.

Jonny - YES: One swallow doesn't make a summer, and one poor half of a season doesn't make Chris Gunter a bad player. He was one of our most consistent performers before this season (top three in our Player of the Season vote last year) - I'd forgive him this bad run of form.

Marc - YES: Important first-team player, on form the first name on the team-sheet.

Will - YES: The only one of our right backs who I feel has potential to become a better player than he is at the moment. He's also barely missed a game through injury in nearly six seasons.

Wimb - YES: Not his biggest fan but he's a proven contributor at this level. Even if you didn't see him as a long term answer it would seem silly to throw away an asset for free when you could always sell him on later.


Stephen Kelly

Bucks - NO: He's looked dependable this season, but doesn't offer much going forward. He's the wrong side of 30 and hasn't done enough to warrant an extension to his deal.

Hoops - NO: Sorry, Stephen, but I just don’t have the confidence in you to perform week after week. And, with three right backs at the club, you're the weakest link—goodbye.

Jonny - NO: Consistent, but he's on a good wage and that money could be invested better in the future.

Marc - MAYBE: Juries out, if he can justify a strong wage with strong form it's a yes.

Will - NO: Decent, steady full back, but at 31 he needs to be more than an average Championship fullback to justify a new deal.

Wimb - NO: Nothing personal but again Kelly's an international signed in the Premier League era and so won't be cheap. He's not young either so time to use those wages elsewhere.


Shaun Cummings

Bucks - YES: A better player than is often thought, Shaun Cummings' fortunes always seem to be dictated by where Jordan Obita is playing. That said, with no one really impressing at left back this season, Cummings has every chance of making that position his own in the short term, and is a dependable back-up in the long term.

Hoops - YES: Improved so, so, so much since Rodgers first brought him to the club. He provides genuine competition for Gunter nowadays, and can put a shift in at left back too.

Jonny - MAYBE: Another player who may not be happy to sit on the bench as emergency cover - if he's willing to stay, for the right amount, he's a very good backup.

Marc - YES: Under-rated and versatile.

Will - MAYBE: I still don't know why he was given a new contract in the Premier League a month before we signed Stephen Kelly. He's decent back up but I'm not sure he'll ever amount to more. Unless we have a promising right back coming through the academy I would give him another year. Could be our Tony Hibbert.

Wimb - YES: A decent fill-in at right-back and a serviceable emergency left-back. Again someone who could feasibly be a number one again and is still fairly young.


Alex Pearce

Bucks - NO: This was a tough one, but I don't think Pearce offers enough going forward to warrant a new contract. The passion is clearly there and I love the guy to bits, but it's hard for me to make a case for him that isn't emotionally driven. Reading's defence needs a revamp and, although he could easily prove me wrong, I don't think he'll be part of it.

Hoops - MAYBE: This could be a knee-jerk reaction to that game at Cardiff, but I think it’s fair to say Pearce hasn't improved his game all that much in the past few seasons. Whether his contract wrangle meant he lost time to progress, nobody knows, but if he keeps performing this way I’d be tempted to say we can do better.

Jonny - YES: Like Gunter, Pearce was solid before this season but the turmoil at the back has affected him in a big way. If the team settles, he could find his groove again.

Marc - YES: Haven't got enough centre backs to not and knows the club.

Will - MAYBE: Put him next to an on-form senior centre back (like Kaspars Gorkšs) and Pearce can be very effective. Unfortunately 2011/2012 is increasingly looking like the season of his career. With Cooper and Hector showing promise, Ferdinand having another year on his contract, and more promising young centre backs at the club, it is time for Pearce to up his game and prove why he deserves a new deal.

Wimb - MAYBE: My heart says yes but the head is starting to think no. Pearce's drop in form since winning POTS in 2012 has been alarming and you wonder if there's been irreversible damage done by his contract dispute. Not a bad defender but you wonder if he'll ever regain top form at this club. If he really wants to stay let him but he's got to want it big time.


Let us know your thoughts on these six players. Do you agree with our editors? Or have they got it wrong? You can find the second half of our debate here, where we discuss the futures of Danny Guthrie, Jem Karacan, Ryan Edwards, Royston Drenthe, and Craig Tanner, and also give you a chance to give your verdict on each player.