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Niall Keown To Fight For Reading FC Place In 2017/18

Could we be seeing the Reading youngster in the blue and white hoops of the senior team next season?

AFC Wimbledon v Reading - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Niall Keown has suggested his future could lie in Berkshire, at least next season. The 22 year-old has spend the second half of this campaign on loan with Partick Thistle in the Scottish Premiership, where he's played 13 times.

He's definitely done well at Firhill Stadium, with The Jags conceding a paltry nine goals whilst Keown's been on the pitch.

Speaking to the Glasgow Evening Times, he said the following about his Reading prospects in 2017/18:

"As far as I know at the moment, I'm still a Reading player and that will remain the case. I'm going back there to fight for my place next season, and until I hear otherwise I've still got another year there at least.

“It’s been a fantastic experience here, but the prospect of coming back again on loan is something that I’ll have to discuss with Reading and the manager here or wherever it would be.

“I’m open to any options, whatever is going to be the best move for me, but it is something that I will have to sit down and discuss with Reading at the end of the season."

He also had this to say about his time north of the border:

“The move has given me the experience that I massively needed. I’ve had a number of bad injuries and a bit of bad luck over the last three or four years, so I’ve not really been fit enough for long enough to get the run of games that I’ve wanted.

“This was a massive opportunity and I’m really grateful for the manager for showing that faith in me.

"I haven’t played a massive amount of first-team games before I came here, but I knew I was ready for the challenge. It’s been great for my development.”

Will we see him wearing the hoops next season?

It's hard to know what Stam's long-term plans are for the young centre half, whose contract still has just over a year to run, but the signs otherwise don't look good.

Reading already have Paul McShane, Liam Moore, Tiago Ilori and Tyler Blackett as senior options in Keown's position. However, you can also potentially throw in the likes of Rob Dickie, Jake Cooper, Zak Jules and Dominic Hyam.

With that in mind, Keown could have to get past upwards of half a dozen other defenders if he's to add to the 91 minutes of senior league football he's built up for the Royals.

In his favour, Keown is a pretty adaptable defender, being comfortable at centre back, right centre back or right back. That could heighten him in Stam's estimations, with the Dutchman showing this season that he's happy to play three, four or five in defence.

Do you think Keown should get an opportunity with Reading's first team next season? Let us know on Twitter @TheTilehurstEnd or in the comments below.

Keown's career stats come from TransferMarkt.