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Who Should Jaap Stam Replace Reading FC's John Swift With?

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Bucks looks into who we could see fill the former Chelsea playmaker's place in the Reading side.

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

With it emerging that John Swift will be ruled out with injury potentially until the New Year, Jaap Stam has a selection headache. The former Chelsea playmaker has been a revelation in the midfield for Reading this season, providing a vital spark going. However, perhaps worryingly, there's no stand-out choice to replace him in the side.

So, who will the gaffer pick to come into the side?

Below, I've assembled some of the better options. For simplicity's sake, I'm assuming that Stam will stick with his 4-3-3 formation and replace Swift in a straight swap.

I'm also excluding Danny Williams, George Evans and Joey Van den Berg on the basis that they're already regulars in the midfield in more defensive roles than Swift's.

Stephen Quinn

Although he is also currently ruled out with injury, the Irishman won't be on the sidelines for as long as Swift. When Quinn returns to action, thought to be in around two weeks' time, he'd bring a lot of balance to Reading's midfield trio.

The former Hull City midfielder's experience, work rate, technique and good form last season all suggest that he'd be a good choice.

However, despite all the above, I don't think he's what we need in a Swift replacement. We're not after a hard-working, solid choice - we're after a playmaker.

Liam Kelly

Choosing the (other) diminutive Irishman would solve some of the shortcomings I've outlined above. Although Kelly doesn't have the experience of Quinn, his skill on the ball and creativity catch the eye.

The academy graduate's stock has risen so quickly over the last few months that he's now very much a part of the first team squad, despite still only being 20 years of age. Could he continue that development by taking Swift's spot in the team? It's hard to tell.

Up until now, Kelly's been a deep-lying, ball-playing midfielder. Although his range of passing is excellent, his physical presence is less so (what with him only being around 5'5"). Arguably, the latter point makes him poorly-suited to being a defensive midfielder, as seen by him struggling in the trip to Rotherham.

Then again, it's still early days, so he could yet adapt well.

However, perhaps Stam could kill a few birds with a single stone by moving Kelly further upfield. By playing the youngster in a more advanced, less defensive role, Reading would still get the use of Kelly's creativity, but also leave him less exposed.

Garath McCleary

If Jaap Stam wanted to try something very left-field, he could switch Reading's top scorer from being a forward to a midfield playmaker. I certainly think he has the skill set: an attacking mind, clever movement and an eye for goal.

Plus, moving McCleary out of the front three would free up space for the likes of Roy Beerens or Yakou Meite.

Normally, I'd say that this is an experiment worth trying, but would Reading really want to disrupt the form of their biggest goal threat? I doubt it.

Other options

Before he made the switch to left back, Jordan Obita came through the academy as a creative midfielder. He might still have those attacking instincts, but after developing as a defender for so long, they're probably gone.

Josh Barrett has a bright future ahead of him, probably in a Swift-style midfield role, but this season is too soon for him. Despite getting a few minutes against Preston under Brian McDermott, the youngster is staying with the youth team.

Who do you think Jaap Stam should bring in for John Swift? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us at @TheTilehurstEnd.