In 2017/18, Mo Barrow was Reading’s joint top scorer and finished in the top three of the club’s player of the season vote, but things now look very different for the Gambian winger.
He has made just six starts this campaign, completing 90 minutes on only half of those occasions. For four matches, he has failed to even make the matchday squad - including the last two fixtures against Millwall and Birmingham City - leading to suggestions that Barrow may have fallen out with Royals manager Paul Clement.
The pair had a previous rocky relationship at Swansea City, where Clement loaned Barrow out to Leeds United in his first month in charge before letting him go on a permanent deal to Reading in July 2017.
Now, after the 2-1 defeat to Birmingham last night, Clement has revealed that the winger’s absence is due to a breach of discipline and that this issue would need to be resolved before he can return to the pitch. Clement did not specify whether this was an issue that also involved himself or whether it was simply between Barrow and the club.
Just spoken to Paul Clement. He tells me Mo Barrow is out the squad due to a breach of discipline. Barrow needs to sort it out with the club before playing again.— Tim Dellor (@TimDellor) October 23, 2018
Speaking at St. Andrew’s, Clement said (as per football.london):
“We’ll see if he comes back in on Saturday.
”It’s a big squad with competition for places all over the pitch but particularly in the wide areas.
“I know him from my time at Swansea so I know what he is capable of. But there are also some matters which are difficult for me to discuss and I don’t want to talk about them publicly.
“They are private matters which I want to deal with - it’s not as simple as it might sound.”
As he eludes too, Clement has plenty of options to choose from out wide, and Barrow (525 league minutes) has actually featured the most out of all of them so far this season, compared to Sone Aluko (507 mins) and Josh Sims (326 mins). In addition, Yakou Meite and Sam Baldock have been used on the wing on occasions, but are generally played down the middle. Garath McCleary returned from an eight month injury last weekend against Millwall, whilst Callum Harriott and Adrian Popa remain on the sidelines.
Having seen what he can do last season, Barrow could arguably be considered the most talented of the lot, and a real weapon in Reading’s armour if they continue to struggle as they are.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the 26-year-old does indeed return to face his former club in South Wales on Saturday, or whether this stand off continues (and how long for). There were rumours about a possible exit in the summer, but could January signal the end of Barrow’s time as a Royal?