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Four Areas Reading FC Need To Strengthen This Summer

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Jack Simpson takes a look at the positions where The Royals need to strengthen this summer

Reading v Fulham - Sky Bet Championship Play Off: Second Leg Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

With the opening of the summer transfer window fast approaching, Reading FC have a rumour-fuelled few months coming up.

Three loan players, and potentially Danny Williams too, will be leaving the Madejski Stadium, but the May takeover means money to replace them shouldn't be as tight as it has been in previous years.

There will certainly be areas of the team where Jaap Stam and his transfer committee have decided to address more urgently than others - here's where I think Reading should strengthen over the summer.

Right Back (back-up)

Chris Gunter had a remarkable season, making over 52 appearances in all competitions and being one of the first names on Stam's teamsheet. However, the Welshman's main competition at right back was young Tennai Watson.

The 20 year old was obviously seen by Stam as someone who was not quite ready to play league football mainly due to his inexperience.

This is also evident,

that despite Gunter going through a difficult spell midway through the season, he still managed to keep his place in the starting line-up.

Therefore Stam should use part of his transfer budget to improve the depth of the squad at right back.

While Gunter is known for having superb fitness levels, there is no guarantee that he will be able to play every game next season.

If the Welshman did get injured for a certain amount of time, experienced cover would be needed.

Potential targets

Adam Henley: 22 year old who is a free agent having been released by Blackburn. The Welsh international made 94 appearances during his 13 years at Ewood Park, but a hamstring back in November ended his season prematurely.

Steven Whittaker: The 32 year old who has been previously linked with the Royals is another player who is a free agent following his release by Norwich. A very experienced full back who made 106 appearances including 43 games during Norwich's promotion to the Premier League in the 14/15 season.

Left Back (back-up)

Jordan Obita had a good season, ending up as first choice left back at the close of the 2016/17 season. When the 24 year old was injured or suspended, Tyler Blackett would come in for his spot. However, Blackett never looked comfortable playing at left back, with the away games at Brighton and Norwich two examples.

Signing a left back would then allow Blackett to play at centre-back, a position in which the former Manchester United man is far more comfortable. Stam should therefore look to invest in a more natural left back, someone who is able to step in if needed.

Obita was one was of the best players towards the end of last season, with the performance against Fulham in the first leg of the play-offs one of his best in a Reading shirt.

In my view, if Stam does decide to strengthen at left back then it can only be a win-win situation, as it will give Obita the incentive to deliver in every game.

Potential targets

Greg Cunningham: The 26 year old made over 40 appearances for Preston last season, helping them to a respectable 11th place in the Championship table.

When Reading played Preston at Deepdale, Cunningham was one of the Whites' best players, neutralising the threat of the Reading wingers.

Cunningham would be a player that Reading should be able to snap up, depending on what the transfer budget is.

Zeki Fryers: The former Manchester United and Tottenham man is a free agent having been released by Crystal Palace.

At 24 years old Fryers is still a relatively young player and can live up to his high potential.

Although he hasn't played much football in the last two seasons, the left back can still do a job in the Championship and would provide excellent competition for Jordan Obita.

Defensive Midfielder (main)

Every day that passes by it seems that Danny Williams will end his stay at RG2 by leaving on a free transfer.

With that in mind Jaap Stam will need to invest in a suitable replacement. Someone who can break up the play, make driving runs from midfield and deliver when it counts in big games.

Potential targets:

Jackson Irvine: The Australian had a fantastic season for Burton Albion scoring 10 goals in 42 appearances. In fact only Tom Cairney and Stefan Johansen of Fulham scored more.

At 24 years-old Irvine still has his best days ahead of him and would be an excellent long-term addition.

If Reading do want to sign this talented player they will have act fast with rumoured interest from Sheffield Wednesday, Aston Villa, Wolves and Derby.

Joe Ledley: The Welsh international is a free agent with Crystal Palace opting not to renew his contract.

Last season Ledley made 18 appearances for Crystal Palace, but fell down the pecking order behind Yohan Cabaye, Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur.

Ledley also has a good CV having won the league with Celtic, reaching the 2016 FA Cup Final and getting to the semi finals of Euro 2016.

However, the Royals could need to fight off potential suitors Cardiff City, Celtic, Aston Villa and Derby.

Striker (main/back-up)

Yann Kermorgant had his best season ever as a professional footballer with 19 goals in 45 Championship games, but he's announced that he'll be retiring at the of the 2017/18 season.

Therefore Jaap Stam must get in at least two strikers over the summer, someone who can provide pace up top and a solid back-up in case Kermorgant or anyone else gets injured.

With the Chinese hopefully giving Stam a competitive budget in which to buy players, the Royals boss will need to spend the bulk of it on reinforcing the Reading attackers.

Potential targets:

Britt Assombalonga: The Nottingham Forest striker scored 14 goals in 32 league appearances in his first full season since recovering from a serious injury.

The former Peterborough man has a bit of history against Reading having scored in Nottingham Forest's 4-0 win over the Royals back in August 2014 and then scoring twice again in their 3-2 win over Reading at the back end of last season.

Assombalonga is full of pace, so he can make runs in behind and finish if given the opportunity.

But with his contract not expiring until 2021, Nottingham Forest could command a huge fee for his services.

Cameron Jerome: The 30 year old is likely to leave Norwich this summer with the Canaries open to offers for the striker.

Jerome is also proven goal-scorer at this level having scored a combined 34 goals in his past two Championship campaigns.

The former Birmingham and Stoke striker could prove to an excellent addition if Kermorgant's goals do dry up.

However, Jerome's wage demands could prove to be a problem.