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Reading FC Ups & Downs: August

From a promising start at Wigan, to an injury crisis and through a transfer window, we take a look at how each Reading player has performed and see how their form and prospects are trending.

Ben Hoskins

This article looks at the trend of every player who has played in a competitive game for Reading so far this season. My ratings are based on reasonable expectations given last year's individual performances and what we could expect to see from youth players stepping into the first team.

A Federici 6 0 After a fairly impressive pre-season, Federici was selected to start the new campaign ahead of Alex McCarthy. Regardless of whether this was down to Reading seeking a better opportunity for McCarthy, leaving Feds to be first choice, the big Aussie has ironed out the crazy errors he was making at the start of the Premiership season and looks to be back towards his best. Even in the 4-0 defeat at Forest he made a number of good saves which may have slipped under the radar amidst the defensive chaos and disappointing performance that afternoon, and he has kept 3 clean sheets so far. Back in the team after more than a year and a half warming the bench, the performances Feds has been putting in are a big positive so far this season. Up
M Andersen 0 0 Following the sale of Alex McCarthy, the promising Mikkel Andersen will now have a full-season as Federici’s understudy, which is good opportunity for him to get some experience of what Championship football takes. N/A
J Cooper 3 0 Of particular note, Cooper made some commanding headers when the team was hanging on for dear life at Middlesbrough and drastically helped to relieve the pressure. For a youth player to come on and show such confidence in very difficult circumstances was refreshing. Up
S Cummings 6 1 Shaun Cummings has been forced to play on the left this year following the lack of transfer activity to fill the gap at this position. Much as he looks when he plays in his natural right-back position, Cummings is dependable and gets up and down the flank reasonably well. He also scored his first goal for Reading on the opening day of the season at Wigan with a screamer from 25 yards. With limited game time last season, and being forced to play out of position this year, Cummings never mentions this in press interviews and seems to be happy getting on with the job, doing a consistent job at that. Up
S Griffin 0 0 Yet to make an appearance. N/A
C Gunter 7 0 Gunter is standing in as captain whilst Jem Karacan makes his final recovery from his long-term injury. He has injected a lot of passion into this role, as seen from his goal celebrations and response to the fans at the end of matches, and is leading the team well, as well as being loved by supporters.  His ‘video diary’ clips are also going down well and are a good way to connect with the players behind the scenes. 
As usual, Gunter makes well-timed, positive runs forward to provide an outlet for the team, and for the most-part plays well. However, given how solid he was for the majority of last season, some of his defensive play this year hasn’t been up to scratch - 3 of Nottingham Forest’s 4 goals last month were down to lax marking from Gunter, and the City ground seems to be turning into a place were Gunter regularly puts on a horror show having been sent off there last season. Given the high expectations placed on Gunter this season, his performances haven’t quite been good enough, but if he can increase the standard of his all round defensive play again he will be one of the better performers this season.
S Long 1 0 Played for 45 minutes in the cup game at Scunthorpe and looked comfortable. Level
M Hector 6 0 Hector hasn’t put a foot wrong and was unlucky to temporarily lose his place due to injury. He looked impressive in a central midfield role on the opening day at Wigan. Level
A Pearce 7 0 Following the sale of Sean Morrison to Cardiff, there now seems little debate as to who our first choice centre-back is. All season Pearce has been steady and commanding, even if he hasn’t put in any stunning performances. He kicks the odd ball long when there looks to be a better option, but all defenders at Championship level are prone to this and the consistency of Pearce at the heart of the defence will be crucial as the season continues. Level
A Ferdinand 0 0 Yet to play since signing in the summer due to fitness issues. Relegated numerous times from the Premier League in his career so far, and seemingly in decline, it will be interesting to see whether Ferdinand has what it takes to displace Pearce or Hector at the back. N/A
H Akpan 5 0 New season, same story for poor Hope Akpan. With vacancies for the central midfield position opening up due to injury, it seems Nigel Adkins doesn’t rate Hope, trying everyone but him, and never giving him a sustained chance to prove his worth, instead opting for youngsters Ryan Edwards, Jake Taylor, Aaron Kuhl and even defence-minded Michael Hector at his expense. With that said, when Akpan does play, although not being a world-beater he doesn’t do anything wrong, and it would be nice to see him given a fair stab at Championship football at some point this year. Level
R Edwards 6 0 If EA do their homework right, Ryan Edwards should be handed the ‘engine’ trait on the new Fifa 15. The academy graduate, who looks like he can operate anywhere across the midfield and behind the striker, will run and run and run all game long, chasing the ball down tirelessly. Being 20 and a man that few Reading fans knew much about before the start of the season following his loan to Perth Glory, Edwards’ work-rate and attitude will mean fans have a lot of patience with him in his first season. Despite not yet doing anything spectacular, the commitment and determination of Edwards has been good to see and a bonus for the squad. Up
D Guthrie 1 0 Perhaps rushed back from injury too soon, Guthrie has featured just once this season and the team certainly miss his ability to pick a half decent pass forward. Guthrie was involved in the well-worked free-kick routine at Wigan for Sean Morrison’s goal, and looked assured throughout his half an hour showing after coming on as a sub in this game, as we would expect. Level
A Kuhl 4 0 Kuhl reminds me of when Jem Karacan first came onto the scene from the academy 6 years ago. Tenacious and eager, chucked into the middle of the park with our injury crisis, Kuhl is keen to be positive when he’s on the ball, playing it forwards whenever he can and getting up to support the attack. The defensive side of his game isn’t bad either, as he gets box-to-box for 90 minutes. Relatively high hopes have been pinned on the ex-under 21 captain, and so far he looks an exciting prospect. Up
O Norwood 2 0 Wandered onto the field as a substitute with the team beaten at Nottingham Forest and looked below the pace of the game. However, Norwood played much better at Middlesbrough and similarly to Guthrie, looks like he can play intelligent passes in midfield. Level
J Obita 6 0 Considering the immense performance levels that last year’s player of the season put in at left back, Obita hasn’t quite transferred that rich vein of form into his midfield exploits. Often strangely deployed by Nigel Adkins in a more central role, with Jake Taylor pushed out wide, we haven’t really seen Obita tested as a left-winger yet, which is his favoured position. Even though this is probably down to his manager’s choices, Obita’s displays this year haven’t matched how I thought he would progress and he has been a disappointment. Deployed at left back against Middlesbrough, Obita looked sharp, and I really hope he can move up to the left wing and have the same impact. Down
J Stacey 1 0 Played added time against Ipswich, making it impossible to pass judgment. Level
A Tshibola 1 0 Made his only appearance when he came on late at Nottingham Forest. With Forest 4-0 up and the game petering out, Tshibola was anonymous, but given the circumstances he can’t be judged on this alone. Level
J Taylor 7 2 Having teetered around the edge of the squad throughout last season, Taylor, a boyhood Reading supporter, has finally broken into the starting 11 and Nigel Adkins seems to have faith in his ability. Although Taylor can look lost at times when pushed out onto the wing, especially the left, he has a real knack for showing up in the right place at the right time, with important goals against Ipswich in the league and Scunthorpe away in the cup. Up
C Tanner 5 1 Has made a handful of appearances from the bench and looked lively whenever he plays. Tanner makes some intelligent runs and took his goal well against Newport in the cup. Up

N Blackman

6 1 Consistently deployed on the right wing as opposed to his natural position up-front. It would be nice to see him given a chance playing up top, but Blackman continues to slowly silence his critics by steadily putting in decent performances and running at defenders down the right. In particular, he had the beating of Dan Harding every time at Nottingham Forest, and scored a fine individual goal against Newport in the cup. Up
S Cox 7 2 Unable to put a sustained run of good performances together, Simon Cox goes hot and cold, hot and cold as the games go by. However, an experienced Championship striker was what we needed in the summer and Cox has done nothing to show he isn’t worthy of this title, particularly with his exquisite finish against Middlesbrough. Level
J Mackie 3 0 Yet to make a significant impact, but his chances have been limited due to fitness and ineligibility. Level
P Pogrebnyak 4 1 Before his injury, Pog put in some steady displays and held the ball up well to bring the midfielders into the game. He also put away perhaps his best goal in a Reading shirt with a Cureton-esque deft touch against Newport.


In summary:

Ups - A Federici, J Cooper, S Cummings, R Edwards, A Kuhl, J Taylor, N Blackman, P Pogrebnyak, C Tanner.

Levels - S Long, M Hector, A Pearce, H Akpan, D Guthrie, O Norwood, J Stacey, A Tshibola, S Cox, J Mackie.

Down – C Gunter, J Obita.

So, how does this compare to your own evaluation of the Reading squad? Let us know in the comments below.