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Reading FC v AFC Bournemouth: Five Things We Want To See

It's time for Reading FC's final dress-rehearsal ahead of the 2016/17 season and here's five things we'd like to see from Jaap Stam's side tonight.

Harry Trump/Getty Images

Reading's final pre-season friendly of the summer sees Premier League Bournemouth pitch up at the Madejski Stadium but what should we be hoping for from Jaap Stam and his team tonight?


Hitting five at Boreham Wood and three against Al-Taawoun is all well and good but the blank at League One AFC Wimbledon was worrying. Deniss Rakels and Yann Kermorgant managed just six league goals between them in 29 league outings last season while Dominic Samuel scored just twice in his final 15 games for Gillingham out on loan. Throw in Joseph Mendes registering a single-figure goal tally for Le Havre last season and it's not obvious where the goals are going to come from this season.

Scoring against a Premier League side is never going to be an easy proposition but one or two of those players getting a goal under their belts would certainly ease some nerves.

Some bite in the midfield

Losing Aaron Tshibola was a big blow to Reading's plans this season and with Michael Hector also gone plus Danny Williams and Oliver Norwood both rumoured to be on their way out (more on that shortly...) a lot of eyes will be on new boy Joey van den Berg to deliver a solid performance on his Madejski Stadium debut. What we need to see is JVB add a bit of steel to a midfield unit that looked soft at times last season. There's not a lot of natural leadership in the team but if players like Joey, Stephen Quinn and George Evans can put in a strong tackle or two, it'll go some way to showing that this team is up for the fight this season.

Obviously football has largely evolved beyond the point of physically bullying teams (oh hi Colin!) but Reading need to show they can do the dirty work as well as showing off the technical class Stam is trying to bring out in them.

Youngsters showing they belong

Much has been made of Reading's Academy and the number of players that have graduated to the senior ranks but now it's time for some of those younger players to stand up and show that they're ready for Championship football. Players like Tarique Fosu, Liam Kelly, Rob Dickie and others need to show they can handle a quality side like Bournemouth if they want to be serious contenders to stick around the squad this season.

Make up your mind on Williams, Gunter & Norwood

Stam faces a bit of a dilemma right now in that he's got a few players who have half a foot out of the door but who for now are still senior Reading players. Nobody wants to see Danny Williams, Chris Gunter & Oliver Norwood discarded but until the window closes they should be plan B rather than plan A players. If you feel you've already got a like-for-like player than using any of the trio to fill a role is much less of an issue but if Stam's building a game plan around a certain attribute that one of the three brings, then it could lead to longer issues if they suddenly get sold.

It's a dilemma nobody wants and it's a problem of being lower down football's food chain but for me, Stam should be making his mind up now and if those players do remain in September then you bring them back into the fold. Nobody needs a repeat of the performances we saw from Pavel Pogrebnyak when during open transfer windows...

Get through the game injury free

Despite all of the above, the priority for Stam has to be seeing his players come through this game unscathed. The squad is thin on experience right now and losing someone like McShane, McCleary or Kermorgant is something the club really can't afford right now.

So a win would be lovely but what we want is every player as close to their peak as possible for the visit of Preston in eight days time.

So that's how I see it but what do you think folks? What do you hope to see on the hallowed Mad Stad turf tonight?