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Reading FC Player in Focus: Ali Al-Habsi

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After a break for all the drama in recent weeks, we resume our player review series by looking at the greatly improved Ali Al Habsi.

Safe hands?
Safe hands?
Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Ali Al-Habsi is our Omani international goalkeeper who has certainly had many ups and downs since arriving at Reading in the summer. I for one was very happy with our two goalkeeping recruits in the summer. Bond came with a good reputation and has age on his side, whereas Al-Habsi has all the experience at the highest level you'd want in a Championship goalkeeper.

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At the ripe old age of 34 (which in goalkeeping terms is a fairly prime age, even in today's standards), we look to have secured a 'keeper of decent pedigree and seems a nice guy as well. Ali has found his feet in recent months after a torrid first few months where our goalkeepers were rotated frequently.

Key moments were the penalty save against Burnley (we all remember the build-up to that one as well!) and the leap of faith into the Reading faithful after Piazon sealed our FA Cup win against West Brom, passionately celebrating with the fans. He is quickly achieving cult status, which is no mean feat considering the shoes he has had to fill since Adam Ferderici departed.

Slowly but surely, Reading fans are accepting and trusting his hands in goal, and is shrugging off the 'Ali Al-Flapsi' name some fans have called him after a few mistakes and moments of poor handling. In the premiership with Wigan, he was one of the best performing 'keepers for a few seasons (certainly scored some points in fantasy football) and it is plain to see he has calibre, even if it took a little while to shine through. I still believe we need reinforcements in the summer to keep him on his toes, and Bondy could do with a loan to a League One club for a season.

My rating during the first part of the season was drifting between a two and a three. This has improved a great deal since then. If I could give an honest rating it would be 3.5, but sticking to past consistency I will score with a whole number.

Rating - 3 out of 5