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What Should Reading Do With Their Out Of Contract Players?

Which of these squad members have a long-term future in Berkshire?

Reading v Stevenage - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay Photo by Harry Murphy/Getty Images

After the news that Yakou Meite had agreed a new contract at Reading, there are now 8 players due to leave Berkshire when their deals expire next summer. Paul Clement, Gianluca Nani and Ron Gourlay likely have half an eye on how the squad will shape up in the long-run, so the futures of those players need to be decided on.

With a quarter of the season now gone, which of those out-of-contract Royals are the closest to agreeing an extension, if any? We’ve had a look at what their futures are likely to hold and what each man needs to do if they want to stay at the Mad Stad.

Anssi Jaakkola

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

Not very, although we said the same thing as recently as a few months ago when he was surprisingly offered a one-year extension. Excluding a short stint in the latter days of Jaap Stam’s time, Jaakkola has only featured in the cup for Reading since joining in the summer of 2016, and the arrival of Sam Walker has shoved him further down the pecking order. With Luke Southwood, Lewis Ward and others also developing, there’s not much point keeping Jaakkola on the books.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

Hope that the competition gets injured, giving him a chance in the first team, then take that chance and impress Paul Clement. Neither of those parts is particularly likely, and he’ll still probably leave the club even if they did both come off.

Paul McShane

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

It’s hard to tell at the moment. McShane’s form has been on the wane in the last year or so, and he’s currently out of the side after a poor performance at Blackburn Rovers in which he gave away two penalties. That said, the Irishman is a senior member of the squad and Paul Clement may try to keep hold of his experience, even just as a squad member on a one or two-year deal.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

Get back into the first team and make his experience count on the pitch. McShane is currently behind Liam Moore, Tiago Ilori and John O’Shea in the pecking order but, with Reading struggling for results, an opportunity could arise. When it does, some strong performances - of which we know McShane is more than capable - will go a long way to triggering a contract renewal.

Reading v Crystal Palace - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

John O’Shea

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

McShane’s compatriot joined the club on a one-year deal in the summer amid reports that he would hang up his boots in 2019. At the grand age of 37 O’Shea will probably stick to that path, so any contract extension would be a shock.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

Invent a magical serum that makes him five years younger. O’Shea is fit enough to play this season (he played regularly for Sunderland in 2017/18), but continuing into the next campaign would be pushing it.

Tyler Blackett

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

A lot more possible than it would have been last season. Blackett has bounced back well from a poor 2017/18 and had been playing regularly, putting in solid but unspectacular performances, before picking up an injury. However, Andy Yiadom has generally been preferred at left-back, whilst Omar Richards and Jordan Obita are long-term absentees, meaning there are plenty of potential rivals if Blackett wants to stick around long-term.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

Build on his promising start to the season and improve even further. As it stands, Reading don’t need a steady left-back, they need someone who can also push forwards and offer width - something Blackett isn’t quite as strong at doing. If he can add that to his game, Clement may decide it’s worth rewarding the player with another two years or so in Berkshire.

Danzell Gravenberch

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

Nigh on impossible. Gravenberch was signed all the way back in late May 2016 - before Jaap Stam joined a short time later. With the player making little impact in his first season and staying at KSV Roeselare ever since, there’ll be little desire from Reading or Gravenberch to agree a new contract.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

Massively impress this season at KSV Roeselare before suddenly developing a surprise fondness for Reading Football Club. Neither are particularly likely and Gravenberch will probably end up back in the Netherlands when he leaves the Royals next July.

Joey van den Berg

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

Even less likely than Gravenberch in truth. Having apparently been a favourite of Jaap Stam, Joey was unceremoniously dumped by Paul Clement and - according to the player - Reading tried to force him out of the club by making him train with the youngsters.

He’s currently back in his homeland at NEC on loan for the season and appears to be doing quite well.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

Going by the above comments, he won’t try to earn a new contract. Van den Berg has no fondness left for Reading so will probably look for another club in the Netherlands who’ll take him next season.

Callum Harriott

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

At the moment, very unlikely. Harriott, still only 24, hasn’t played for the club in any competitive match since the abandoned game against Fulham in December 2016. His return keeps getting pushed back, so at this stage it’s hard to tell if he’ll get back on the pitch before his contract runs out.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

Prove his fitness - and quickly. If he manages that before long and has an impact on the first team he might stand a chance of a contract renewal. However, even then it would probably be too little too late from the club’s point of view, with Harriott being let go. There’s an outside chance of Reading offering the winger another year if they’re really confident he has something to offer when his injury problems subside.

Dave Edwards

How likely is it that he’ll stay?

Another player who’s not played this season due to injury, Edwards had gone through a tough time in Berkshire anyway. Brought in as a Danny Williams replacement (probably), the veteran midfielder never quite fit in and struggled to hit form. Paul Clement has a good number of options in the middle anyway, so Edwards is surplus to requirements.

What does he need to do to earn a new contract?

When he regains his fitness there could be a role for the 32 year-old if he can provide the leadership on the pitch we’re lacking at the moment - something we discussed in depth here. Experience is something the former Wolves man has in abundance and, if the manager can exploit that from Edwards, a contract offer may be forthcoming.


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