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Reading FC Squad As It Stands: Forwards

Our pre-season look into the (rapidly changing) options available to Reading manager Jaap Stam concludes with a look at the forwards.

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The Reading squad is changing by the day, so much like our look at the Goalkeepers, Defence & Midfield, this one might be out of date by the time you finish reading!

Forwards

Back in the day you used to have out and out strikers ala Jamie Cureton or Jimmy Quinn but these days players are more generally lumped into the role of 'forwards' in a Nick Blackman or Hal Robson-Kanu sense. With those two now long-gone from the Madejski Stadium the longest serving forward on the books is actually Dominic Samuel, whose brief Premier League cameo in 2012 makes him our longest tenured goal scoring option. This is a particularly big year for Samuel, with the 22-year-old firmly back in the reckoning after three injury hit seasons out on loan for Dagenham & Redbridge, Coventry & Gillingham.

Two January captures will be equally keen to impress after showing flashes of what they can do in Brian McDermott's short second spell in charge. Yann Kermorgant is one of the most experienced players now at the football club and at 34 this could well be his last significant spell in the top divisions of English football. We saw away at Charlton last season what he was capable of in a Reading shirt and a lot will be expected of him given his experience of helping Leicester and Bournemouth succeed at this level. Deniss Rakels also pitched up in January and the Latvian became a firm fans favourite by smashing in the winner in that win at the Valley. Two further goals followed and his ability to play anywhere across the forward line should see him see plenty of action this season.

This summer we've already seen a pair of forward minded players signed by Stam, with Joseph Mendes the first of them after signing from French second tier side Le Harve. The 6'1" forward didn't have an outstanding goal scoring record there with 11 goals in 59 games but last year's tally of nine in 24 starts hints that at 25 he may finally be figuring things out in front of goal. If he can replicate the form another former Reading forward signed from the French second tier, we'll all be happy! Like Rakels, Mendes has been described as a player happy operating either through the middle or out wide.

Also arriving in the past week has been Dutchman Roy Beerens. Primarily a winger, Beerens should see action either side of a central striker if Stam keeps faith with a 4-3-3 formation. Having spent his career in the top divisions in the Netherlands and Germany including earning two caps for Holland, Beerens is one of the more exciting arrivals we've had so far this summer and comes to Berkshire averaging a goal every five league games.

It won't just be Samuel hoping to return from loan spells to impress, with Craig Tanner returning to the Madejski as a player with nearly 50 games in senior football under his belt after spells with AFC Wimbledon and Plymouth. A tricky player, Tanner's main weakness seems to be in front of goal where he's only managed five goals in that near half-century of appearances. USA youth international Andrija Novakovich turns 20 in September but has picked up a couple of appearances off the bench for Reading and had a handful of games on-loan at Cheltenham last season as they won the Conference. At 6'4" his physical presence could see him as a backup option to Kermorgant although you'd think a loan spell away might be more realistic this season. 18-year-old Sam Smith is another youngster earning good reviews at youth level while Harry Cardwell spent time on loan with Woking and Braintree last season as he looks to deliver on the potential that saw Reading sign him away from Hull a couple of years ago.

Throw in those we mentioned in the midfield section like Tariqe Fosu and possibly even Paolo Hurtado and Reading have no shortage of attacking talent on the books right now. The only thing missing would possibly be another goalscorer but those tend to come with hefty price tags and it's unsure if Reading will gamble on signing another experienced name before giving the likes of Samuel, Rakels and Kermorgant the chance to prove their quality. Still, with so few goals scored at the end of 2015/16, Stam might make changes quickly before the window shuts.

Chance of summer transfer activity: 6/10