Part one of our position-by-position Reading FC report cards sees us take a look at a pair of keepers who had it all to prove after arriving at the club this summer.....
2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 40 - TTE Average Rating: 6.1 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 6
Six, four, five, six, six.... Hardly the best ratings to start your Reading career and if you'd asked many fans in October what they thought of the Oman keeper, few would have many good things to say. Yet Al-Habsi's redemption was one of the few positive stories to emerge from the second-half of a miserable campaign, with the veteran goalkeeper going on to win the club's Player of the Season award.
While personally I think that honour had far more to do with the rest of the team's difficulties, Ali's return to being at least competent at Championship level is a nice tale. The keeper we saw so nearly earn us a cup replay with Palace had come on significantly from the one we saw commit a string of howlers against Portsmouth, Everton, QPR & others in the Autumn.
Personally I'm still not convinced he's a keeper capable of being the backbone of a top Championship defence and you can't ignore his shocking start but he's worked his way up to serviceable and is one of the nicest blokes at the football club.
Flaws in his game are still evident and costly but has been more reliable of late and experience should prove a positive influence around the squad.
2014/15 Grade: N/A
Appearances: 14 - TTE Average Rating: 5.9 - Readers' MOTM Awards: 1
It's easy to feel a little sorry for Bond, who tasted defeat in just two of his first nine games and held a rating just 0.2 points behind Al-Habsi yet seemed nowhere near the first team in the closing weeks of the campaign.
The former England U21 had just looked like establishing himself as the club's regular number one when he picked up and injury after a win at eventual Champions Burnley and would be out of the team again until Al-Habsi's error against QPR in early December. Bond began Brian McDermott's return in the side but lasted just three games before being dumped again and didn't make a single appearance in 2016.
Bond's form in his two brief runs in the side wasn't exactly spectacular and his naive error at Sheffield Wednesday cost the side two points but such mistakes had to be expected from a 22-year-old with limited senior football behind him. Al-Habsi's form post-Christmas played a big part in keeping him out of the team but Brian's decision not to give him a go when the season was 'dead' certainly raises concerns about his short-term future at the club. A keeper with good potential, I wouldn't be shocked to see him loaned out for the season, with Al-Habsi fighting it out alongside another established keeper.
Flashes of promise mixed in with underwhelming distribution and costly errors. Unfortunate not to be given another chance after Christmas.
So that's the keepers taken care of, stay tuned for the case for the defence....