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First Impressions: Liam Kelly

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It's been a pretty attention-grabbing start for a variety of reasons as the young Irishman gets his break in the first-team, so what have we made of Liam Kelly?

Arsenal v Reading - EFL Cup Fourth Round Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

"How can you lose a header to him? He's only five foot!"

Sitting in the home end as Reading lost 2-0 to Arsenal in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night gave a unique view of one of the Royals' latest academy graduates, and not only the top-tier, birds-eye kind.

Sure, from above there's a perfect vantage to gauge Liam Kelly's style and substance, but the opinion of those completely disassociated with the midfielder showed how he stands out from his teammates in a non-typical fashion. Standing at barely 5 foot 6, the Irishman drew comparisons with a boy half his age from the Gunners fans and yet there's plenty of optimism around his game from the away end.

That's despite Jaap Stam taking Kelly off after just 30 minutes of his debut against Rotherham on the weekend, a moment which could have broken the youngster's reserve had he not played the full match at the Emirates Stadium just days later.

Sat at the back of a three-man midfield, the playmaker showed an unwavering willingness to get on the ball and dropped deeper than the centre-backs when in possession to keep the play ticking over. It's an admirable quality to be so eager and confident, yet Reading's inability to create anything when passing out from their own half shows that the system is as-yet incomplete.

Whenever the visitors did get forward, there was plenty of endeavour from Kelly who took a number of shots from range, although David Ospina remained untroubled in the Gunners' goal.

Relating the Irishman to a current Reading player is difficult, as the obvious comparisons are Oli Norwood and Danny Guthrie, who've both left the club. That shows there's a void in the side for Kelly, a gap to fill if Stam opts for a playmaker to anchor the midfielder over a tough-tackler.

His ability to nail down a place for the rest of the season relies on adding a few more dimensions to his game, in defence as well as an end product in the final third that Norwood in particular always lacked. But, there's plenty to work with from this points onwards.