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Reading FC Position Previews: Full Back

Yesterday we reviewed the goalkeepers. Today @WilliamOwain look at the (lack of) options at full back.

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Stephen Kelly (released), Jure Travner (released)

Already in squad:

Shane Griffin, Chris Gunter, Michael Hector, Niall Keown, Sean Long, Paul McShane, Jordan Obita

Quick Analysis:

For the first time in a long time options at full back are rather scarce. Luckily for Steve Clarke his two most experienced full backs are also two of the fittest players in his squad. Youngsters Griffin and Long have both appeared during pre-season, whilst Hector and McShane have both spent time at right back during their careers. Garath McCleary and Stephen Quinn could also be considered emergency full backs.

The Contenders:

Chris Gunter: This season will be the first one since Gunter joined the club that he is undisputed right back. It is also the biggest season of his career. Domestically his contract runs out at the end of the season and he could be club captain. Internationally he will be hoping to be part of a Wales squad that reaches Euro 2016, but he will know that Adam Matthews move to Sunderland means he will have real competition to keep his place in Chris Coleman's starting line up. International ambitions might be the inspiration Gunter needs for a career defining year.

Jordan Obita: If it hadn't been said so many times it would be easy to forget that Obita is "just" 21. Like the rest of the team his 2014/2015 season can best be described as indifferent. He once again struggled anywhere other than left back but with one of the best British defensive coaches around as his manager Obita should improve defensively this season. He might never significantly improve beyond his current borderline Premier League level but for where Reading are at the moment he is perfect. Like Reading legend Nicky Shorey he is not going to transform a team but he could be a significant part of a transformation in a team.

Niall Keown: Tarique Fosu aside, Keown has probably been the best young player in pre-season. He has played at centre back but such is his mobility and ability on the ball he could easily play right back. It was noticeable in the 2014 U21 Cup final how much more dangerous Reading looked going forward after he was moved from centre back to replace Sean Long at right back.

Sean Long: Made his debut last season in the League Cup at Scunthorpe when Shaun Cummings was injured and was never seen again. Probably behind Keown, Hector and McShane in cover for right back. Turned 20 in May and would probably benefit from a loan move.

Shane Griffin: The fact that Long was brought on ahead of him at Scunthorpe tells you how far Griffin was away from the first team last year. Nigel Adkins preferred to play Gunter out of position at left back rather than play Griffin who is a left back. He may have improved in the last year but it would be surprise if Griffin were to be seen this season. Like Long he probably needs a loan spell away from the Madejski Stadium.

The Verdict:

The easiest selection decisions for Steve Clarke. Right back Chris Gunter, left back Jordan Obita. The only question is whether it is worth bringing in cover? Given that Gunter and Obita are rarely injured it would seem a waste of money to bring in reserve full backs especially when you consider that they would probably be of Jure Travner quality. There are plenty of options for cover at right back and Gunter has played left back on many occasions in his career. There is also the loan market if Reading needed to bring in full back reinforcements.

What do you think of the options at full back? Would you like to see permanent cover brought in? Let us know your thoughts.