A player who has spent numerous years at Reading, captained the under-23s and made several appearances in the cup, Gabriel Osho has all the makings to become a real asset for the football club. But there are questions as to whether he will be able to succeed at the Madejski Stadium.
If you know me, you’ll know that I love seeing an academy player make his mark. We’ve had a number of good academy graduates over the years: Alex Pearce, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Shane Long are just a few.
Several players, including Jack Stacey and Michail Antonio, have gone on to appear in the Premier League after being frozen out of the first team. However, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side and that’s why Gabriel Osho now needs to push on to fight for his Reading career.
Loanee Matt Miazga may not return to Berkshire next season, leaving the 21-year-old as fourth choice behind Liam Moore, Michael Morrison and Tom McIntyre. Let’s not forget that Osho himself could leave, with his contract expiring this summer.
Although there may not be an obvious link, the coronavirus pandemic could be detrimental to his Reading career. Before the league game postponements, the Royals were in a decent position to go on and secure their Championship safety in the next few games. Like in 2015/16 and the emergence of Josh Barrett, this ‘not going up, not going down’ position could have given Osho the opportunity to shine in the latter stages of the season and earn himself a new deal.
Osho made his debut in December 2018 after an injury crisis at the back for the Royals. We thought our injury problems couldn’t have got any worse when Tom McIntyre had to start against Rotherham United in the previous game.
Fair play to McIntyre, his performance showed exactly why the academy hold him in such high regard. However, the Scottish youth international picked up a facial injury and bravely carried on until the final whistle, although the severity of his injury meant that he couldn’t start against Middlesbrough in the next match.
In came Gabriel Osho, who put in a fantastic performance against tough opposition. George Friend’s late winner for the visitors prevented the young defender from picking up a clean sheet on his Championship debut, but his showing alongside Tyler Blackett gave Reading fans something to cheer about.
Fast forward to this season, and the FA Cup replay against Cardiff City away in the Welsh capital. One high and one low dominated his night. Although he made a fatal error that led to Cardiff City retaking the lead in extra time, his composure to then step up and score in the penalty shootout showed great courage.
That night, we played three at the back. And you have to ask the question: will Bowen’s formation choice influence whether Osho gets a new contract? I really want to see him succeed but is he really going to displace Moore and Morrison next season? That’s even without taking McIntyre into account, who’s impressed many this season. The duo share their stories in the video below.
I would like nothing more than to see these two go on and form a fantastic centre-back pairing. However, it would be a major gamble and Dai Yongge seems willing to spend the cash to fire the Royals back to the Premier League. Will these two young academy graduates be able to lead the Berkshire side to the promised land or will they be frozen out?
That remains to be seen, but I hope we haven’t seen the last of Osho in a Reading shirt. There must have been a reason why he was under-23s captain and he has always given a good account of himself when he has made senior appearances. You have to fear for him like you do for Tennai Watson, who currently finds himself behind Andy Yiadom and Chris Gunter in the pecking order.
Gunter’s contract expiry this summer could form a path for Watson, but are we set to see more academy graduates leave in the next few months?