It’s been a difficult few months for David Meyler. Having signed for Reading in the summer on a free transfer from Hull City, he featured in five of the Royals’ first six league games of the season, but has not made an appearance since the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on September 1st.
Whilst a portion of this absence can be put down to injury, the Republic of Ireland international has been available for selection from around mid to late October. Since this return though, Meyler has only been included in two matchday squads - missing out on six games in a row despite Reading winning just once in this time.
He did return to the bench against Stoke City at the start of December, but was then once again dropped for the fixture against Sheffield United and this weekend’s trip to Rotherham.
Plenty of fans on Twitter were quick to question Meyler on his exclusion from the squad yesterday, especially as he was playing FIFA (Meyler has over 376,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel based around the video game) during the match at the New York Stadium.
To his credit, the 29-year-old has never been afraid to respond to supporters and has arguably been one of the most vocal players on social media this season despite not featuring on the pitch much.
“What else am I going to do?” he replied to one fan who asked why he was playing FIFA and not at Rotherham. “I was training this morning [and] wouldn’t have [had] time to go to the game.”
Asked why he had been left out of the squad, Meyler said “No idea mate”. To another he replied “I’m just awful and can’t get into the squad!”. Tongue in cheek, he joked to one supporter “More chance of you getting in the team than me!”.
Tweeting generally about his absence, Meyler said:
“Trust me I’m desperate to play for Reading and to win games. People think I’d rather sit on Fifa which is nonsense. I’m doing everything I can to get back into the team but for some reason or another I’m not getting a look in.”
“I came here excited to play for Reading and I’ve not been able to do that. I’m working hard to change it so fingers crossed.”
“I know I can add something to the team but I haven’t been given a chance in months.”
“I get hammered [by] fans every weekend when I haven’t played since September. You’d swear it was all my fault.”
After one fan tweeted him about being given the chance to impress under a new manager, Meyler replied “Fingers crossed and hopefully show some people what I’m about.”
Meyler will be far from the only one unhappy with his lack of game time. It’s no secret that Reading’s squad is oversized at the the moment, with more than 30 senior players available for selection if fit. Captain Paul McShane, whilst limited by injury himself, has not played since he gave away two penalties against Blackburn in August.
Meanwhile, Pelle Clement, Callum Harriott, David Edwards and Adrian Popa have all had injuries this season as well but are all now fit and yet to make a first team appearance. It means that January is shaping up as a month where we’ll see plenty of exits from the Madejski Stadium.
Speaking before his sacking, Paul Clement said:
“It’s absolutely necessary - we have to get players out. It’s necessary to do it for the good of the club, squad and team. And also for the players involved.
“Ultimately, the goal for the window will be reducing the size of the squad and improving the quality.”
It makes the appointment of a new manager as soon as possible a serious priority for Reading. Whoever comes in will have to assess the squad before January and decide which players to let go. Of course there has to be clubs interested in buying these players as well, which is probably why the likes of Harriott, Clement and Popa have been featuring regularly for the Under-23s to build up fitness and put themselves in the shop window.