On the final game-day before the international break, Reading made Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards their 6th signing of the summer transfer window. Edwards, who has joined the Royals for a fee believed to be £1 million, made 307 appearances during his 9 year stay at Wolves, scoring 41 goals in the process, 10 of which came last season as Edwards finished as Wolves' joint top goal scorer.
Edwards' arrival has certainly been well-received among most Reading fans, although with the recent arrival of fellow midfield man Leandro Bacuna, who signed from Aston Villa 2 weeks ago, questions have been asked about how Edwards will slot into the current Reading side. So far this season, Reading's midfield has been made up of three central midfielders with one of the three sitting just in front of the central defenders in a holding role, and the other two having more freedom to bring the ball forward and start attacks. The holding midfield position has been owned by either Joey van den Berg or George Evans, who has been brought on in place of van den Berg during Reading's last three victories, scoring two goals. The two more attacking positions had belonged to John Swift and Liam Kelly, until Swift was injured during a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Preston and ruled out for up to a month. With Swift absent, Leandro Bacuna was able to slot into his place against Birmingham in the Royals' 2-0 victory at St. Andrew's. Reading's performance against the West Midlands side on Saturday was, according to many fans, the best league performance so far this season, with the midfield being a focal point of success. This makes it even more difficult to see new signing Edwards stroll straight into the starting XI.
What type of player is he?
As mentioned above, Edwards was Wolves joint top scorer last season with 10 goals, he was also out through injury for 3 months earlier this year. So scoring 10 goals while only playing about 2 thirds of the campaign is a good sign of Edwards' attacking ability (Or perhaps just a sign of just how poor Wolves were last season). With Liam Kelly already bagging 3 goals so far this season and Leandro Bacuna netting a stunner on his home debut against Millwall in a 3-1 cup win, it is satisfying for Royals fans to see such attacking prowess from the middle of the park. However, Edwards has also shown his ability to play in a holding midfield position, which seems to be his position when he plays for Wales. His main trait that has been pointed out by many Wolves fans is his work rate, he often works up and down the pitch to both help and contribute to attacks, and help out the defence when he is needed.
So with such talent in the midfield already, we can only assume that Edwards has been brought in to add some much needed strength in depth. If Stam sticks to his system of 3 central midfielders, in 1 month's time he's going to have Bacuna, Swift, Kelly, Evans, Edwards, and van den Berg all to choose from, which isn't a bad set of options.
So, is he any good?
Reading fans have already had chance to see Edwards in action during the recent international break. Edwards was part of the Wales squad which faced Austria on Saturday. He started the match, marking his 40th appearance for Wales, with many Wales fans calling his performance a touch above the rest. Edwards played the full 90 minutes which ended in a crucial 1-0 victory for Wales, with Ben Woodburn scoring the winner. Edwards played in a central holding midfield position, and made many challenges, including one goal-stopping tackle on Austria's David Alaba, who was through on goal. Some Wales fans called Edwards the best Wales player on the pitch. This is good news for Reading fans as it shows us that Edwards is able to play in a more defensive midfield position, a position in which Reading lack the most depth, with van den Berg and Evans being the only 2 players able to play there. We could see him in action again on Tuesday night when Wales take on Moldova, whether or not he will start is uncertain, but with his positive performance against Austria, it's likely he will.
Thought Dave Edwards did fantastic for Wales tonight. Made the right decisions, cool head, solid— Alex Terrell (@alxterrell) September 2, 2017
Only had to watch 5 minutes of the Wales game to tell Edwards is a really natural leader on the pitch.— Andy Walker (@andywalker1871) September 2, 2017
Out of Reading's 7 arrivals this summer, I think Dave Edwards is the one I am most interested to see play for the first time. That would mainly be because his position in the starting XI is uncertain. He could play in holding midfield, in place of vdB or Evans, or he could play in the position that Bacuna has taken up. Either way it is clear that he is going to provide some serious competition for the rest of the Royals' midfield. It is good to see such depth in midfield considering there were some serious worries before this season due to the departure of Danny Williams, but hopefully with the arrivals of Bacuna and Edwards, the two of them will be able to fill the void he has left, or, who knows, maybe even go a step further and mark the position as their own.