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2018/19 Positional Preview: Strikers

It’s everybody’s favourite position so... where are they all?

Reading v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Players available in this position

Reading were a bit light on the ground when it comes to proven goalscoring potential as the summer began. The spotlight was on Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, a fantastic worker who nonetheless has never scored ten league goals in one season, until he was joined by Marc McNulty, a £1 million man who led the line in Coventry’s League 2 play-off win last season.

There are a number of youngsters around although Sam Smith has most recently joined Oxford on loan, while Yakou Meite is back from his stint at Sochaux in France. Of course, England youth international Danny Loader made his debut last season and will turn 18 in late August, at which point he may himself be on loan somewhere.

The most important addition came late in the day with Sam Baldock brought in from Brighton and the Englishman really needs to hit the ground running.

How did they perform last season?

Quite simply, they did not perform last season. Bodvarsson was in and out of the side a little too often to provide any real consistency but showed that he was evidently not the world’s most natural finisher en route to seven Championship strikes in 20(+13) appearances.

Yann Kermorgant scored twice in 13(+12) games with January loanee Chris Martin registering the solitary consolation goal in 4(+6) outings. The Derby striker has not been asked to come back for a crack at improving his record in the new campaign. Smith registered only the once himself from 4(+4) matches and the clear sign from these numbers is that no one scored enough goals to convince their manager to start them very often.

Oh, and Joseph Mendes also got on the pitch. Three times.

What needs improvement

Reading scored 25 goals in 23 games at home in the league in 2017/18. Reading won five games at home in the league in 2017/18. This isn’t rocket science.

With McNulty in the mix, the Royals have a fresh face who perhaps holds a new approach and can click with his teammates better than those who came before him. However, coming from League 2 he will likely need time and a more proven, experienced player (such as Kermorgant a la 2016/17) is still missing.

What are my expectations ahead of the season?

  • McNulty will start slow but come good. Maybe not 15/20 goals a season good, but entertaining to watch and relatively prolific when on his day good.
  • We know what we are going to get from Bodvarsson and, should his head not drop for whatever reason, he should continue to fight, pop up with the odd goal and generally play a good all-round game for the team.
  • It is still a season too early for Danny Loader. I expect he will stay in the Under-23s until Janaury and then move out on loan, which will also be a learning process rather than a goal fest.
  • Sam Baldock will do well enough to justify his signing but service will be an issue. Having the new No. 9 as a defined first choice striker should boost his confidence and take the pressure of those around him, improving Clement’s options a great deal.

How are Reading looking up top? Is there enough quality there for The Royals to push up the table and escape relegation?

Let us know.