So this season has been one of disappointment and moments of jubilation. I pick one player who I feel it is vital that we keep this summer and one who I feel we can afford to lose as the season draws to a close.
Player We Need To Keep
Where do we start with our current captain? A player who will divide opinion between fans as to whether we should renew his contract this summer or whether the wages could be used on better players. With only 2 Championship appearances to his name this season, it would be very harsh to judge Jem's ability to fit in with the current squad based on these 2 games, especially with 1 of those games being a 4-1 defeat to Watford where there were wholesale changes within the starting 11.
At the start of last season I thought we were seeing Karacan back to his very best after being played in a more attacking role in the 3-3 draw at home to Watford where Jem netted twice. But then the moment all Reading fans dreaded seeing again was another serious injury happened again against Leeds. He was out for just over a year and I had serious doubts to whether he would be the Karacan I loved watching play week in week out before the 2 serious injuries.
I'm still confident that Jem can still do an excellent job in our current squad both on and off the pitch. In my opinion I feel he would work best with a midfield 3 of himself, Williams and Norwood (Or Chalobah if he returns next season). This would give Jem the license to either push forward into the more attacking role of the 3 midfielders or he could sit in a defensive midfielder role with Williams pushing further forward. Another reason to why I feel it is vital for us to keep him is his work rate both on and off the ball. Before he suffered the injuries Jem was by far our most hard working player which was there for all to see when he was one of the only players chasing down every ball regardless of the situation the team were in.
The only other player that would push Jem a bit in this department would be another hopeful signing by the name of Jamie Mackie who for me is starting to become a fan's favourite around the Madejski with his passion and drive during games. Off the field Karacan seems like the sort of character that can pick the players up after a poor result which is probably one of the reasons he's our captain!
So for me Jem should definitely be given a new contract at the club which i'm sure they will offer him that eventually! Sooner the better though because i'm sure a few other championship clubs would be more than willing to add him to their squads.
Player We Can Afford To Lose
I hate to say it because he seem's like a really nice guy but it's got to be Stephen Kelly. With Gunter finding his best form again, Kelly definitely seems to be the 2nd choice right back with him not even making the bench on some of the games. Also he is 32 this year so he's probably past his full potential which is a shame to see. Overall he is a championship level defender with most clubs, it's just difficult to get many appearances under your belt when you have someone of Chris Gunter's quality keeping you out the team because arguably on his day, Gunter is one of the best Right Backs in the league.
A player who has a number of appearances in the Premier League with Fulham and 16 with us, his experience will come in handy at another club at this level. I just think it's very difficult for him to get in the squad with Gunter in front of him in the pecking order.
His wages could be spent elsewhere this summer on younger players and I would like to see more of youngsters coming through at right back, such as Niall Keown and Sean Long.
So this concludes my article on the one player we must keep and the one player we can afford to lose in the summer; a serious revamp of the current squad is needed in order for us to challenge for the play-offs next season, which I think is a realistic target for Steve Clarke's men.