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How Reading Can Replace Andy Rinomhota

A few ideas that Jose Gomes should bear in mind.

Reading v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Reading's last two games have been perfect examples of what happens when a team doesn't have a proper defensive midfielder. In the continued absence of Andy Rinomhota, Jose Gomes has decided to keep the diminutive Liam Kelly in the side, giving him Rinomhota's anchor role in front of the back four.

It's not an idea that worked particularly well in either the 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers or the 4-0 drubbing by Sheffield United. Rinomhota has energy and physical presence in abundance - both vital qualities for this system - but Kelly's lack of them is stark.

Gomes is faced with a tough decision on how to shore up his midfield for Saturday's crunch match against Rotherham United. With no obvious replacement for Rinomhota at the moment, I've helped the gaffer out by coming up with some possible suggestions for what he should do.

Reposition a defender

The most sensible course of action is to focus on the defensive importance of Rinomhota's role, and therefore to bring a defender into midfield. After all, Reading will need someone who can stick in a tough challenge or two and give the attacking players the cover they need to push forward.

Without disrupting the current back four (Andy Yiadom, Matt Miazga, Liam Moore and Omar Richards played on Saturday), the best choice is Tyler Blackett. He's got the strength and height to be a formidable buffer for the defence, and has looked increasingly confident in his all-round game this season. He's also shown his versatility in the last by switching between centre half, left back and left wingback.

Otherwise, John O'Shea would offer similar physicality (albeit without the mobility), while Chris Gunter has the energy without the strength.

AFC Wimbledon v Reading - Pre-Season Friendly
A possible defensive midfielder?
Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Promote a youngster

It's a tad ironic that Reading may end up promoting a youngster to replace a youngster who was promoted earlier this season - but there are some talented players in the under-23s available to Jose Gomes.

Ryan East is probably the most likely, having already made the bench for the 2-0 loss at Manchester United. Connor Lawless was also involved with the matchday squad this season, Josh Barrett has played a handful of his for the first team, and Jordan Holsgrove has recovered from injury to be in contention.

Annoyingly, none of them are direct swaps for Rinomhota stylistically, as they tend to be creative midfielders rather than defensive ones. But Rinomhota started out as a more attacking player and then adapted, so perhaps we'll see the same again.

Play a 'false six'

You've heard of the 'false nine' system in which a team plays without a dedicated striker - so how about a setup where Reading don't bother playing a midfield at all?

It'd be the easiest way forward for Gomes if he can't think of a like-for-like Rinomhota backup, meaning he can focus on other aspects of his tactical preparation.

It may leave Reading a little light in the middle, but then again we might not notice the difference after Saturday.

Erect a Les Miserables-style barricade in the middle of the pitch

Those of you familiar with Victor Hugo's famous book will know about the setting of the final act: a barricade made out of furniture that was put up by Parisian revolutionaries to repel the French army.

So why can't Reading do the same?

Throwing together a makeshift fortification from ripped-out empty seats in the home end and one of the burger vans outside the East Stand could be the most effective way of shielding the back four.

Granted, it wouldn't make a great passing option when Emiliano Martinez wants to go short from a goal-kick, but it would be more mobile than John O'Shea.

Invest in a pair of bionic legs for Andy Rinomhota

With Sone Aluko set to be loaned to Chinese sister club Beijing Renhe, Reading should hopefully soon have some more cash to play with. Spending a decent amount of it on a pair of robotic legs for Andy Rinomhota would solve the academy graduate's ankle injury in a heartbeat, leaving him free to return to first-team action.

This solution would require the least tactical adjustment for Gomes, who can simply revert to his former team selection. There's also the added benefit of making Rinomhota an even better tackler, and immune to further injury.

Do you have any other suggestions? Put them below in the comments or tell us on social media.

For avoidance of doubt, some of these suggestions are a tad tongue-in-cheek.