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First Impressions: Joey Van Den Berg

We're counting down the days until the 2016/17 season kicks off, and with pre-season in the bag Marc offers his initial thoughts on one of Reading's new signings.

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Reading teams of recent years can certainly be accused of, at best, lacking a nasty side, and at worst, missing all bite whatsoever. With Joey van den Berg's arrival, the man who holds the (joint) record for red cards in the Dutch Eredivisie, into the domain of Jaap Stam - no shrinking violet himself - Reading might have found the missing piece in the puzzle.

Not since Mikele Leigertwood have the Royals had a proper tough-tackling defensive midfielder in their ranks, and VDB's deployment on the left-side of a midfield three against Wimbledon suggested he'd be in for a similar role. With Oli Norwood making the play from deep, van den Berg and Danny Williams would do the dirt work from either side, theoretically.

Admittedly, the Dutchman looked a touch off the pace in Kingston, it is pre-season after all, but he was getting amongst and actually broke forward more than expected. That said, his technique appears to be competent but little more; his contribution to attacks has been limited and there have been more than a couple of touches and passes go astray in his appearances to this point.

Initial impressions after the Dons' loss were then shaken around by Stam placing van den Berg at centre-back against Bournemouth. It's a position Reading are short at, with Jake Cooper's inconsistency, Danzell Gravenberch's lack of fitness, and Liam Moore's current stubborn insistence on being a Leicester player.

Indeed, VDB played well, for a friendly. Questions over his positioning for the Cherries' goal reminds us that, along with Paul McShane, he may not be a great high-line operator. In spite of that, he got about and put in plenty of solid tackles that will sit well in the Championship. Like John Swift, early signs are encouraging but until we know his permanent place in the team, judgement calls remain difficult.

What do you make of Joey? A worthy contributor or just a pointless spin-off? Comment below.