Ones To Watch
Despite the lack of first team opportunities, there have been a number of impressive performances by individuals across the Academy setup that suggests it won’t be long until we see them appear on the professional stage. These are the players who have shone brightest during the season so far.
Andrija Novakovich (Striker, 21)
At the start of the season things were looking a little bleak for the tall American forward. A much heralded prospect by Steve Clarke, Andrija saw first team action during the 2014/15 season, as well as appearing on the bench under Clarke the next season before his sacking in December. Since then it’s been back to the youth setup, where he has become a staple of the Under 23 side. Although initially struggling for goals, 2017 has been a sensational year for the 21 year-old, scoring eight goals in his seven matches played since the start of January. Outscoring the likes of Deniss Rakels and Joseph Mendes in the Under 23s will do his first team chances no harm.
Luke Southwood (Goalkeeper, 19)
The next in line on the Reading keeper conveyor belt, young Southwood is already looking a huge prospect, even more so perhaps than those that came before him. A regular in the England Under 20 setup, Southwood has progressed to be first choice for our Under 23 side following the first team and loan commitments for Stuart Moore, and is already looking the part. As our youth sides continue to adapt to Jaap Stam’s ‘methods,’ the passing game is ramped up a level for our youngsters to teach them the importance of keeping the ball. No one looks more comfortable with the ball at his feet than goalkeeper Southwood, almost becoming an additional outfield player to help keep possession. An exciting option as he gains further experience, with many years still ahead for the teenager.
Tyler Frost (Midfielder, 17)
Born in 1999, it’s easy to forget the young age of Frost compared to his teammates considering his progress this season. Starting the campaign playing for our Under 18s, it didn’t take long until the midfielder was a key starter against senior professionals in the Checkatrade Trophy. An exciting talent with the ball at his feet, Frost scored the winning penalty in the Trophy victory over Portsmouth, and hopefully it won’t be too long before we see him doing the same at senior level.
Danny Loader (Striker, 16)
If Tyler Frost seemed young, Loader takes it to another level, having been born this side of the millennium in August 2000. That’s not stopped him however, as he has also stepped up against senior players in the Checkatrade Trophy, coming on as a substitute at Yeovil having been trusted to start the previous round up front against Southampton. Danny’s focus may not entirely be on Reading this season however, as his involvement in the England setup will likely see him play a key role this month in the Elite Qualifying Round for the 2017 UEFA European Under-17 Championship, which will take place in Croatia this May. Success in that competition may see Loader and England competing in the Under 17 FIFA World Cup in October, so we wish him and his teammates all the best this year.
Where You Can See Them Next
Mondayth March sees Reading’s U23s face their next challenge, a vital home match against Liverpool at Adams Park. The game will be televised live on LFC TV.
Dates and fixtures are yet to be announced for the final stages of both the U18 Premier League and Premier League Cup, but we will keep you updated with the Royals opposition as they look to take back the PL Cup trophy as well as potentially break new ground with an U18 title challenge and a place in the UEFA Youth League.