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TTE Crystal Ball 2020: Part One

Our writers have put their heads together to work out what the next five years has in store for Reading’s young talent.

Reading v Chelsea - Pre-Season Friendly - Madejski Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

A little while ago, we went back through our own record books to see how well our five-year academy predictions, made in 2015, had panned out. As you can see for yourself here, our forecasts were naturally hit and miss.

Now, with another exciting crop of young talent on the club’s books, we’ve given ourselves the same task: predict what level they’ll be at in half a decade. We’ve picked out nine of Reading’s more prominent young players. It’s not an exhaustive list - Reading have had no shortage of academy graduates recently.

The ones we’ve gone with are: Luke Southwood, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Gabriel Osho, Tom McIntyre, Omar Richards, Andy Rinomhota, Michael Olise, Danny Loader and Sam Smith. You can find our predictions for the first five in this piece, and the rest in part two.

Luke Southwood

Olly Allen: Championship/League One

Southwood has earned rave reviews wherever he’s been on loan, most recently at Scottish Premiership side Hamilton. It’s always hard to judge the quality of that division, but it’s certainly the highest level the goalkeeper has played at so far, so he’s heading in the right direction. Strikes me as the sort of player who might float between the second and third tiers, either with Reading or someone else.

Jamie Wykes: Higher Championship

A lot of what Southwood’s future holds may well depend on next season. With the young keeper impressing in loan spells in the National League and then the SPL, and many fans clamouring for him to become back-up to Rafael, Southwood is surely itching for an opportunity in Reading colours. If granted, his and the Royals’ fortunes may well be aligned and a path to first choice keeper would certainly not be out of the question.

Liverpool v Reading: Premier League 2 Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Adam Jones: Mid Championship

If he is to succeed at Reading, he needs to be on the bench next season. No ifs, no buts. Rafael could really help his development and the young goalkeeper, who has appeared for England at youth international level, would be more capable of being the Brazilian’s understudy. He deserves a shot at becoming number one, although numerous loans and little experience in the top four tiers will have halted his progress.

Coniah Boyce-Clarke

Marc Mayo: Premier League

Flick through the ‘Ten FM20 Goalkeepers To Sign’ lists and Boyce-Clarke pops up a lot. But does that mean he will be any good in reality? What it does show is that every Premier League club and their dogs will know of the teenager and the typical outcome is he will get snapped up and, in five years’ time, be on the bench of a top-flight team as an understudy.

Jamie Wykes: Lower Premier League

Although most Reading fans will not have seen this young man play, the mere fact that scouts from Manchester United have kept a keen eye on him speaks for itself. Playing for the under-23s at just 16 years of age shows he has the potential to achieve anything in the game and the fact that in five years’ time he’ll still be eligible to play for them really hammers home just how much time he has on his side.

If and when he does leave the Royals, it’s hard to see it being for another Championship club. So even if he does only sit on the bench, if he does the right things he certainly should be playing in the Premier League.

Adam Jones: Higher Championship

At such a young age, he’s shown promise but we will need to see more of him in the first team if we are to predict him to reach the Premier League. I would say he seems quite short to be a goalkeeper, but I’m only 5’5, so I will resist making any comment. The one thing we’ve always seemed to do is produce promising young goalkeepers and Boyce-Clarke is just the latest. Don’t be surprised to see him become the number one keeper at Reading in the future – there’s a reason why clubs like Manchester United have been chasing him in the past.

Gabriel Osho

Jamie Wykes: Higher Championship

Just like Tom McIntyre, this man should be viewed as the potential future of the club. Despite less game time and a shaky performance against Cardiff City in the cup, his passing ability, aerial prowess and, surprisingly, penalty record, suggest that with experience he’ll be more than just a lower-league player in years to come.

Adam Jones: Mid Championship

I’m a major fan of Osho. It’s unlucky that he’s behind the likes of Liam Moore and Michael Morrison at the moment. His contract also runs out in the summer, which is a concern. Will he get a new deal? I would say it’s 50/50, but I hope Bowen takes steps to tie him down to a new contract. A centre-back partnership of McIntyre and Osho could be in the offing in the next few years if he does stay.

Simeon Pickup: Higher Championship

Reading have had a habit in recent years of letting young centre backs go without giving them a proper chance, and then seeing them impress elsewhere and demonstrate why they should have had an opportunity. Just look at Rob Dickie, Dom Hyam and Jake Cooper.

I’ve got similar vibes with Osho, who looks talented - with a good mix of technique, mobility and physical presence - but hasn’t had a proper look in. The emergence of Tom McIntyre (at the same time as him) didn’t help, and neither did debuts (all this season) for fellow centre backs Jeriel Dorsett, Akin Odimayo and Andre Burley.

I’d expect to see Osho released in the summer when his contract expires, before he’s snapped up by a League One side. With regular football in the third tier, he’ll prove his potential and establish himself at a higher level.

Tom McIntyre

Olly Allen: Championship

Predicting where McIntyre will be in five years is essentially predicting where Reading will be in five years. I hope. A boyhood fan, passionate defender and all-round good bloke, he has the potential to become a club legend if he sticks around at the Mad Stad. He may even become a first team regular as early as next season, partnering Liam Moore, who he could succeed as captain.

Daniel Wimbush: Mid Championship

Has plenty of promise and being a local should help give him that little bit of extra slack from the crowd. With Michael Morrison not getting any younger and Liam Moore continually linked with other sides, Tom should be getting an opportunity to show what he can do in the not too distant future. However, I’ve not seen the overwhelming promise to suggest he’s going to be a star.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Reading - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Molineux Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Adam Jones: Lower Premier League

I can’t tell you how much I want this guy to succeed. He’s been really promising this season and in my opinion, should start next season alongside Liam Moore in defence. This is no insult to Morrison, who has also performed admirably this season. Mark Bowen, please start him in the next campaign so that he can show exactly what he is capable of. We will end up regretting his departure if he is allowed to leave the club.

Omar Richards

Marc Mayo: Championship

When a rival team scouts Richards, they will see a player who - in theory - has it all. Able to handle himself physically, he is quick, can make a good tackle and is more than capable on the ball. But can he put all that together for the full 90 minutes, 38 games a season? That will limit him to the second tier, in my opinion, and Reading will likely keep him around for a long time unless either club or player significantly improves.

Olly Allen: Championship

Whenever I see Richards play he either looks promisingly impressive or a little out of his depth. I suspect that inconsistency will prevent a Premier League club from signing him, but he’s by no means a bad option for Reading to have. Next season may give him a chance to make the left-back spot his own if Jordan Obita and Tyler Blackett both leave, and this may result in him being an important staple of the side for years to come.

Daniel Wimbush: League One

I really don’t think he’s got the defensive skills to cut it at the top level and from a developmental standpoint he’s not significantly kicked on despite having had around 60 first-team appearances and been in the group for three seasons. He feels very much like Shaun Cummings and Joe Mills in that he could probably do a job for a successful team, but on his own he’s not going to elevate you in the same way a Shorey, Armstrong, Bertrand or Harte did.

Look out for part two, when we’ll look at Reading’s young bunch of midfielders and forwards.