Today’s opinion piece comes from Sean Richardson. Agree with him? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section below, or tweet us @TheTilehurstEnd
With the Royals rocked yesterday by the news that first choice left back Jordan Obita has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament, Jaap Stam has another cause for concern to only add to the impending feeling of gloom around the Madejski Stadium.
The news has come as a shattering blow in a period where the Royals have struggled for form, languishing in 20th position in the Sky Bet Championship and failing to pick up a league win since the 2-0 triumph at Birmingham in the final week of August, with much of this being attributed to a lack of invention and threat in the final third.
Stam’s persistence with a five defender formation has seen Tyler Blackett given the nod to operate down the left channel as part of this system, and while he has performed capably in a defensive capacity, the former Manchester United prospect has often been found wanting in an attacking sense, critical to maximise the system’s full potential.
He is also prone to lapses in concentration as demonstrated by failing to track Cameron Jerome for Norwich City’s winning goal in the 2-1 reverse in the Royals’ last outing. It’s clear that Stam’s patience in Blackett is wearing thin, evidenced by his substitution in each of the last three matches.
His replacement in the encounter with the Canaries, Omar Richards, may be an exciting prospect although with daunting trips to high-flying Leeds United and Sheffield United on the horizon, it may be too soon to thrust the 19-year old into the limelight. However, it could be the perfect opportunity for fan favourite and somewhat forgotten man Stephen Quinn to be given a chance to return to first team action.
Quinn’s time at Reading has been marred with injuries restricting him to just seven league outings last campaign, although having been champing at the bit to return to the starting line-up and being down the pecking order in his natural central midfield role, he could be the perfect solution for the troublesome left wing-back role. The 31-year old is versatile, having often been deployed on the left side of midfield in his time with Sheffield United and Hull City, as well as an emergency left-back for a short period while at Reading under Brian McDermott in the 2015/2016 season.
Although tailor-made wing-back Obita’s loss comes at the most inopportune time, Quinn certainly has the energy, tenacity and work ethic to offer similar qualities in both halves of the pitch, which, given the Royals’ daunting run of fixtures in October, will be invaluable.
With the Irishman’s contract also set to expire in the summer, should Stam place his faith in Quinn it could be the perfect lease of life to his flagging Reading career.
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