The injury table gives with one hand... and takes away with the other...
Reading's ongoing struggle with the plague of injuries that has descended upon Berkshire must make Hogwood Park seem akin to Bubonic-plague era Europe, with the squad at one point missing out on a whopping 14 players. Long-term absentees Jem Karacan, Danny Williams and Garath McCleary are still on the treatment table, but the last week has seen some positive and negative developments for the physios to grapple with. Saturday saw first-team regulars Adam Federici and Michael Hector unable to start, with Mikkel Andersen (more on him later) and Jake Cooper stepping into the breach. That said, Messrs Guthrie and Robson-Kanu made returns to the starting XI to face Derby on Tuesday, giving Nigel Adkins some more attacking options going forward. And, as I'm sure you'll all agree, the news that Stephen Kelly is close to a full return couldn't be more thrilling.
It's pretty crazy to think that Saturday's man between the sticks had been waiting for seven years before finally making his debut. In those seven years, he played for the likes of Torquay United, Rushden and Diamonds and Bristol Rovers. Signed by then manager Steve Coppell from Danish side Akademisk Boldklub during our first stint in the Premier League, Mikkel Andersen finally has his first two Reading appearances under his belt. Here's to another seven years, hopefully with a few more appearances this time.
The League Cup isn't our forte...
The Third Round is far from the worst showing we've had in the League Cup in recent years, but it's disappointing to note that it's also one of our best. In the six seasons before this one, we've only gone further than the third round on one occasion - and that ended with a 5-7 battering at home to Arsenal. In those six seasons, we've also seen a 6-0 mauling away to Peterborough and a first round exit to Charlton Athletic - hardly the most dangerous of sides. This year it can certainly be said that we beat the teams we should and only went out to a good side that was almost promoted last season, but we're definitely due a longer cup run than this one - hopefully it'll come sooner rather than later.
Cometh the hour, cometh the investment
Sir John Madejski said this week that the takeover of the club from a Thai consortium effectively saved Reading. With the club unable to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking in May, Adam Le Fondre was hastily sold to Cardiff City to pay off a pending tax bill - dire times indeed. Since then, with the takeover ongoing, although the likes of Sean Morrison and Alex McCarthy were also sold to keep funds coming into the club (presumably), Nigel Adkins was nonetheless able to bring in five quality players to boost the young squad he had to work with. With the Thais now tied into the club, we can now look towards signing down key players to new deals, and building the team up towards a Premier League return in the hopefully not-too-distant future. With that hope in mind, whatever the future holds, it's easy to forget that this season could have been very dark indeed.
Our homeless ex-players
I had a sad thought earlier this week when I realised that players released by the club this summer, Mikele Leigerwood and Kaspars Gorkss are still without a club. Both were much-maligned by fans throughout their ill-fated Premier League season and indeed for much of the following year in the Championship, but both are nonetheless hardened veterans at this level with Championship winners' medals under their belts - Gorkss having one for his time at both Reading and Queens Park Rangers. So, with that in mind, you would have thought that someone would have picked them up in the same way that Jobi McAnuff was by Leyton Orient (who recently opened his account for the London side) but alas, no takers. The transfer market is indeed a cruel mistress.