Jordan Obita has surprised many this season by breaking into the first team and making a starting berth his own, picking up a goal and a couple of assists in his 16(+2) appearances.
He's played in a number of positions, proving to be capable in different positions. Though primarily a left winger, he's played only 5 times on the left-hand side of midfield, with McAnuff, McCleary, Drenthe and Robson-Kanu proving difficult to consistently get past.
He's played more times in central midfield, picking up both of his assists whilst playing in that position.
Most recently, however, 20-year-old Jordan Obita has been deployed by Nigel Adkins at left back. Following disappointing displays by Stephen Kelly and Shaun Cummings in the position, and with Wayne Bridge seemingly permanently crooked, Adkins threw the dice — and Obita hasn't disappointed.
According to WhoScored.com, Obita is statistically very strong in his defensive contribution, with additional strengths in his crossing, key passing and set piece delivery. Whilst those statistics may be skewed slightly by his recent deployment on the left of defence, there's no denying he's been impressive behind Jobi McAnuff.
In fact, with an average of 2.1 tackles per game and 0.5 interceptions per game, Obita doesn't seem to be the type of player who shirks defensive responsibilities. With 1.7 clearances per game as well, you can see just by the stats that Obita has the capabilities to be playing the position Adkins is playing him in.
Despite being played further back, he's not afraid to get forward either. This season he's hit 1.7 accurate crosses per game and come up with 1.2 key passes per game; his passing could be improved on, though, with a 63.8% success rate not good enough.
Of course, statistics shouldn't tell the whole story — but you only need to look at the opinions of our fellow fans to see that he's been impressive.
Obita - better left back than winger.— John Madejski (@NotJohnMadejski) February 1, 2014
I thought Obita was immense today #readingfc— Radio210 (@Royaltypoints) February 8, 2014
Obita and Gunter continuing to impress #readingfc— Cam #readingfc (@cambaker96) February 8, 2014
Nicky Shorey was undoubtedly a quality left back, but since his original sale we've had Bertrand, Harding, Armstrong, Harte, Shorey (who returned), Kelly, Cummings and probably a couple more come into the team to play at left back.
Whilst Armstrong's unfortunate struggle with MS meant he had to retire early, he was the only one of those to look like securing the position in the long term. Even Wayne Bridge's signing in the summer, whilst impressive, has always been a short-term fix to a long term problem.
Jordan Obita's surprising many this season: becoming a first team regular, adapting to what the manager asks him to do in multiple positions, and now impressing to such an extent at left back that many fans are wondering if Adkins has inadvertently discovered a long-term solution to a problem area for the Royals.
The question is, does Jordan Obita have what it takes to make the full time transition from winger to full back (much like Ashley Cole)? Or will he have more of an impact further up the pitch in the long run? It's a toughie.