Yesterday, Australian A-League side Newcastle Jets confirmed that 23 year-old midfielder Matt Ridenton had been granted a week’s leave to pursue an opportunity abroad. It was later confirmed that the opportunity presented to him was a potential move to Berkshire, with our beloved Reading FC. Ridenton joined up with the side yesterday and is rumoured to have been the ‘Trialist’ who featured in the U23s’ squad that drew 3-3 against West Ham last night.
Who is Matt Ridenton?
Matthew Ridenton was born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1996; he spent the most part of his youth career playing for Auckland City before moving to Wellington Phoenix. During a five year spell with The ‘Nix, Ridenton occasionally featured for New Zealand internationally, and was part of the squad that won the OFC Nations Cup in 2016.
In May 2018, Ridenton completed a move to 2017–18 A-League runners-up Newcastle Jets on a two-year contract, reuniting with former Wellington Phoenix manager Ernie Merrick.
The central midfielder has appeared 10 times for the Jets so far this term, starting five of their twelve league games in a season of struggle. The Newcastle Jets currently sit bottom of the A-League with just two wins to their name. Ridenton hasn't started a single league game since early November - as a result, many A-League and particularly Jets fans were taken aback by the opportunity presented to the All Whites international.
Of all the players in this league for an "overseas opportunity" to present itself to, somehow it's found Ridenton. Sitting on the bench for the bottom side in the league. https://t.co/PCVGNmCmH0— No Nonsense Defender (@NoNonsenseDef) January 13, 2020
What would he add to Reading?
It is unclear whether or not Reading would be signing Ridenton for the first-team squad or the U23s. The midfielder has been praised for his work rate in the middle of the park, as well as his wide passing range; however, he has come under criticism for his lack of finishing ability and end product in the past.
Considering his poor recent form, it remains to be seen why Reading are showing such interest in Ridenton in particular. I personally can't imagine that the 23 year-old would add anything that the Royals don't already have, but that is why he is on trial.
Bringing in Ridenton would remind me of the arrivals of Sandro Wieser and Danzell Gravenberch in the summer of 2016 - a low-cost and fairly low-risk signing with no experience of English football. Having said this, the Kiwi would arguably face much less of a culture shock and wouldn’t struggle to gain a passport due to his mother being Scottish.
It’s not the first time Reading will have taken a player on trial this season either - Denzeil Boadu and Emmanuel Samba have also both spent time at the club in recent months as well as others who will not have been publicised.
Ridenton will spend the rest of the week training with the rest of squad, before a decision is made on whether or not to sign him.