After the departure of Adam Federici, many Royals fans were worrying about who would be tasked with keeping goal next season - and, of course, during our tour of Thailand last week. England U21 international Jonathan Bond was signed from Watford to alleviate any immediate pressure, but Ali Al Habsi also went along for a "trial period".
Except it wasn't a trial period, according to the 33-year-old. Al Habsi told GetReading that the deal was far closer than that, and was simply a case of making sure both parties were happy going forward.
It’s been in the press as a trial but since the first day I came here, I had a meeting with the gaffer and he said 'you can’t be a keeper of 33, with Premier League experience and be on a trial. I didn’t bring you here for that. I brought you here to see the club, to see how you’re feeling and if you are happy or not.' So it wasn’t a trial. It was just to see how I felt about everything. And from the first day I could see I was going to be happy here. I knew this was going to be my home.
The Oman international goalkeeper is looking forward to battling for the number one jersey with Bond, telling the Reading official website that he believes he still has plenty left in the tank.
We have a great goalkeeper coach in Dave (Beasant), and the great signing in Bondy. We have a group of goalkeepers, real competition. In football there is always competition, now I have to prove myself, work hard every day, that's what I did from my first day, hopefully it will all go well and I'm looking forward to playing my first game. I look forward to giving something back for the team, the players and the fans. The only thing now is to work hard and prove my performance level.
And Beasant, in his first season at the club as goalkeeping coach, told BBC Radio Berkshire that the development of the goalkeepers will continue throughout the pre-season.
Now we’re going through everything, and this is what pre-season is all about. It’s moulding the goalkeeper to the style of the defence and the style of the team, and how the manager wants him to play when he’s in possession of the ball. And obviously, most importantly, we’re working to keep the ball out of the back of the net.
Earlier in the week, Olly had a look at the battle between the two 'keepers to start on August 8th, and he believes Al Habsi might hold the early edge thanks to his experience. But it's sure to be an interesting situation as the season develops - having two goalkeepers with the ability to hold their own in this division can be a difficult balancing act, as we've seen before.