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Reading FC Squad As It Stands: Goalkeepers & Defence

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With the Euros almost over and pre-season underway, we take a look at the options Jaap Stam has at his disposal at Reading FC. Today we look at those charged with keeping efforts out.

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Goalkeepers

Reigning Player of the Season Ali Al-Habsi will once again compete with former England U21 keeper Jonathan Bond for a place between the sticks. Both had iffy moments last season but Al-Habsi's return to form coupled with a lack of funds at the club means that another senior signing would seem unlikely.

If Stam does want to make a change than Stuart Moore could be an option after making a handful of appearances out on loan to League One Peterborough last season. Beyond him youngsters Lewis Ward and George Legg have also impressed for the U21s and out on minor loan spells.

Chance of summer transfer activity: 3/10

Full-Backs

Chris Gunter has been busy this summer with Wales, though the right-back might not be Reading's problem for much longer if a rumoured move to Celtic gets completed. That would leave the club rather short on full-back options, with the inexperienced Shane Griffin, Sean Long and Tennai Watson competing with perhaps Rob Dickie to take the spot on the right.  Garath McCleary also spent time at full-back last season and if rumours of a Stam 4-3-3 prove correct, it could be one way to utilise the Jamaica international.

On the opposite flank and Jordan Obita will hope to bounce back from a year that saw him win the 'Hal Robson-Kanu award for Underachievement' on our Christmas Tilehurst End Podcast.  With Andrew Taylor gone, again you're looking at the likes of Griffin, Long and Watson to provide backup right now.

We'll almost certainly see some movement here, with at least one and probably two full-backs signed this summer, especially if Gunter moves on.

Chance of summer transfer activity: 8/10

Centre-Backs

Club captain Paul McShane remains a very solid option and Jake Cooper should only get better from this point on. However with Michael Hector gone and speculation around a possible move for Cooper, reinforcements might be necessary. One of those reinforcements is already on the books in Denzel Gravenberch, with the 22-year-old Dutchman arriving from playing second tier football in the Netherlands.

The lack of experience at centre back is best illustrated by Niall Keown having the third most Championship appearances with just two. The start to Keown's senior career has been blighted by injures and there remain doubts about whether his lack of height may count against him at first team level. That aside he looks a decent prospect and looked more impressive at youth level than Cooper who has since overtaken him. He has the technique and football brain, but at 21 this coming season will be a big one for him.

That is partly because of the centre backs younger than him who are starting to make waves. The previously mentioned Rob Dickie is in with a shout alongside Scotland U21 international Dom Hyam, both of whom spent time out on loan to professional clubs last season. A little further behind them is another Scottish youngster in Zak Jules who at just 19 might be a little too inexperienced for Championship football right now.

Again I'd expect to see movement here, although the fact that Anton Ferdinand is still training with the club might provide an easy option to provide cheap and experienced cover should the younger players struggle to make the step up. Even so, only having McShane with significant Championship playing time on the books is a worry that Stam will likely look to address.

Chance of summer transfer activity: 6/10