With the Royals out of the FA Cup, one eye will certainly be on next season - and the squad that Reading will have for it. Indeed, with a large turnover of players likely to come in the summer, this squad could look very different by the end of August. With that in mind, I decided to have a closer look at the squad by dividing it up into five categories: no future (player will leave in the summer), up in the air (they might leave in the summer - who knows?), some future (player won't be around for much longer), long term future (player will be around for ages) and long term question marks (player won't leave anytime soon, but are they that good?). Rather than wasting your time by listing every single man in the squad, I've only elaborated on a few key examples.
Despite each making contributions to the team this season, Matej Vydra, Lucas Piazon and Simon Cox won't be here beyond the summer. Of those three, Vydra has certainly been the most impressive, scoring six goals in the FA Cup. However, his league form has been average at best, with the Czech struggling to live up to the excitement that greeted his arrival on deadline day. Even if he ends the season with a blistering spell, you'd be shocked to see Reading pay the reported £10m fee to make his move from Watford a permanent one.
Similarly, Lucas Piazon simply hasn't done enough during his time at the club. Despite seemingly bringing a positive attitude to his play, his sparks of creativity have been limited and his off-the-ball work rate unimpressive. All that adds up to a luxury player - one that Reading can't afford.
Finally, Simon Cox. In many ways, he's the opposite of Lucas Piazon - an experienced home-grown player who won't stop running. That said, he certainly struggles in front of goal - not hitting the net for Reading since Norwich last season - Steve Clarke's season home game in charge. With his contract up in the summer, I can't see it being renewed.
Others: Andrew Taylor, Michael Hector, Alex Fernandez, Paolo Hurtado (remember him?).
Ali Al-Habsi came in for plenty of criticism earlier in the season, but has since shown why he's picked up plenty of caps at Premier League level - impressive form culminating in Friday's match against Palace. Having signed a two year deal, he's set to leave the club in 2017. Although goalkeepers can certainly extend their career close to the age of 40, you'd imagine that a younger alternative, Jonathan Bond perhaps, would be the long term choice.
Arriving just this January, Yann Kermorgant hasn't had much of a chance to make an impact on the side - not appearing in the cup at all due to being cup-tied. However, being the physical presence up top that he is, I expect to see him feature heavily in 2016/17. Beyond that, his age will count against him.
Others: Paul McShane, Chris Gunter, Stephen Quinn, Oliver Norwood.
Long term future
Despite enduring an injury-ridden first full season with the senior squad, Aaron Tshibola has already proven his credentials. He learned his trade by helping Hartlepool battle back from relegation in the previous campaign, and carried that on under Steve Clarke. For me, the crucial thing is that he's a versatile player - his mixture of strength and composure on the ball are ideal traits under any manager. I can see him having a long, fruitful time at the Madejski Stadium.
George Evans is in a similar position, having graduated from Manchester City's academy. In fact, the young midfielder was quite the coup for Brian McDermott, being highly rated by his tutors up at the Etihad. Although he hasn't burst into the Royals' first team just yet, he has plenty of time to do that.
Others: Jonathan Bond, Deniss Rakels, Dominic Samuel, Tariqe Fosu, Josh Barrett.
Up in the air
Several players currently at the Mad Stad might very well be here next season, or not at all - the most major example of which being Hal Robson-Kanu. The Welshman is set to enter contract talks at the end of the season, although reported Premier League interest could scupper that. I for one would love to see him put pen to paper on a new deal - he's been one of our best players recently after all. That said, we could easily be priced out of a move.
Also out of contract is Anton Ferdinand. The highly experienced Premier League defender has mostly shaken off injury troubles to put in a number of solid performances at the back for Reading this campaign. However, being the wrong side of 30, it'll be interesting to see if the club want him to remain in Berkshire.
Elsewhere, fan favourite Ola (Ola Ola) John will most likely return to Benfica at the end of his loan deal. Despite going on record saying how happy he is at Reading, the buyout fee would probably prove to be fairly steep. Unless Nicky Hammond can whip up some transfer magic, or Dmitry Rybolovlev injects some rubles, McDermott will have to look elsewhere for a left winger.
Others: Danny Williams.
Long term question marks
Although age and contract length are on his side, the jury is still out on Jake Cooper. The youngster made impressive strides in his development with the club, even keeping the formidable Romelu Lukaku at bay in the League Cup. Brian McDermott's decision to play him regularly in recent weeks would suggest that Cooper is in the gaffer's long term plans, but his performances have been a tad worrying. Issues like positioning, lack of pace and decision making have costed Reading goals recently - with Charlton away and Fulham home as two examples. You could say that match practice will iron out the mistakes he's making, but I'm still unsure as to what level he'll end up at in his career.
A more established player with similar problems is Garath McCleary. The Jamaican had been on fire a few seasons ago, but injury and lack of regular starts have halted his momentum. Indeed, performances this season have shown a distinct lack of ‘the old Garath McCleary' - the one who'd rip fullbacks to shreds at will. Should we get him back to form, he'd be a key player, but it's hard to see that happening.
Others: Jordan Obita, Aaron Kuhl.