A couple of days ago, we asked on Twitter for you to vote on the status of Reading’s six remaining out of contract senior players, seeing whether you would hand them a new deal for next season or let them go.
Chris Gunter, Jordan Obita, Tyler Blackett, Gabriel Osho, Charlie Adam and Garath McCleary have all signed short-term extensions to enable them to see out the 2019/20 campaign at the Madejski Stadium, but beyond that their futures are unknown.
Find out below the results of your votes, as well as the likelihood of each player actually staying on in Berkshire after the summer.
Poll result: 52% KEEP vs 48% let go
The Welshman has divided opinion throughout his time at Reading, so it’s no surprise that this was the tightest poll of the lot. In a result remarkably similar to that of the 2016 Brexit vote, keeping him was marginally the more favoured option - perhaps reflective of Gunter’s impressive revival over the last six months.
A year ago, he appeared to have no future at the club after being excluded from the first team set-up by Jose Gomes, however he has come back into the fold under Mark Bowen and made his 300th appearance for the club in the 2-1 win over Fulham on New Year’s Day.
However those wishing for him to stay at the Madejski Stadium may be left disappointed. Reports last week suggested that he would be calling time on his eight-year spell in Berkshire this summer in search of regular football. Gunter is not first choice at right-back when Andy Yiadom is fit, and he cannot afford to be sitting on the bench next season if he is to make the Wales squad for the European Championships. Middlesbrough and Birmingham City are two clubs that have been named as interested in the 30-year-old.
Poll result: 85% KEEP vs 15% let go
The most popular out of contract player according to the poll results, academy graduate Obita is Reading’s longest serving player, with this August marking ten years since his debut against Torquay United in the League Cup. It has been a decade of ups and downs - from winning the player of the season award in 2013/14 to spending almost two years on the sidelines with a knee injury.
It has been great to see Obita work his way back into the side this season, and he has even started playing further up the pitch than his usual left-back role due to Reading’s dearth of options on the wing. Whilst we have not seen the 26-year-old hit quite the same form he did pre-injury, he remains one of the best crossers in the team and has chipped in with three goals so far in 2019/20 - his joint best tally for a season.
His celebrations after scoring have shown how much it means to him to be back out on the pitch and playing for Reading, and he seems like a character that Mark Bowen should want to keep around.
Poll result: 27% keep vs 73% LET GO
Blackett’s approval rating was arguably the highest it had ever been at Reading during the club’s four game winning run over Christmas. He excelled in the left-back role, proving solid defensively and registering three assists in that period. The desire for the former Manchester United man to sign a new contract was growing.
However the mood seems to have quickly changed, with almost three quarters of voters now happy to see Blackett depart this summer. This may be because supporters see Omar Richards as the long-term option at left-back or the fact that Blackett himself appears to have little desire to stay Reading.
Reports in January suggested that the 26-year-old had turned down a contract offer from the Royals amid interest from Turkish sides Fenerbahce, Ankaragucu and Trabzanspor - there were even some rumours that he had been signed a pre-contract deal with the latter. While this has not materialised, Blackett has not featured in any of Reading’s last eight fixtures, indicating that Mark Bowen is planning for a future without him.
Poll result: 64% KEEP vs 36% let go
The youngest out of contract player at 21 years old, the want to keep Osho at Reading may stem from the desire to see an academy player continue developing at the club and become a fixture in the first team. The defender made his debut against Middlesbrough in December 2018, while he has made three cup appearances this season.
Osho’s ability to play at both centre-back and right-back will surely help him in earning a new contract, considering that it is looking likely that the Royals will need cover in both of those positions next season. However Osho will certainly want more of a first team role if he does stay, considering that he turns 22 in August and has only 24 senior appearances to his name, with approximately 70% of those coming on loan in the National League.
He may decide that he needs to move away permanently in order to play regular football - he can take heart from the likes of Jack Stacey, Tariqe Fosu and Dom Hyam who have left Reading at a similar age in recent years, dropped down a league or two and worked their way back up.
Poll result: 43% keep vs 57% LET GO
‘The Scottish Pirlo’ may have become a popular figure with both his teammates and supporters in his one season at Reading, but there is perhaps a feeling that that should not be tarnished by a second year in the blue and white hoops. At 34 years old, keeping Adam around would surely be a decision based on his impact off the pitch, rather than on it.
His ability to pick a Hollywood pass remains his stand-out trait - no outfield player in the Championship has completed more long passes per 90 minutes than Adam (8.9). However, a lack of pace and energy is a clear worry and the former Liverpool man is certainly not the player he once was.
A return to Blackpool was mooted last summer before he joined Reading, and a sentimental return to Bloomfield Road would appear the obvious destination for Adam should he move on. He doesn’t appear to be thinking about retirement just yet.
Poll result: 37% keep vs 63% LET GO
Like best pal Gunter, McCleary appeared to have played his last game for Reading this time last year after being frozen out by Jose Gomes, but he remained in Berkshire for an eighth season at the club. Now though, the poll suggests you feel his time is up.
Unlike Gunter, McCleary has been used sparingly on his return to the side under Bowen - he has started only two Championship games this season and completed 90 minutes in just one of them. That’s not to say he has been valuable off the bench, and at Derby on Saturday he showed how he can inject some pace and excitement into the team when coming on.
However, at 33 years old, McCleary is not a long-term option for Reading, despite the fact that the Royals will surely be in the market for a winger or two this summer. He came close to signing for Oxford United last summer and was also linked with a move to MLS, so a fresh start seems likely. The Royals will miss his experience and presence in the dressing room, but as a footballer, McCleary’s best days are behind him.