Reading have a proud tradition of consistently producing young talent for the first team, and it’s only fair that we celebrate that in our end of season awards. So for the sixth campaign in a row, in a year in which the total number of academy graduates reached 57, we’re asking you to vote for your Rookie of the Year. Andy Rinomhota was the recipient of last year’s accolade, following in the footsteps of Omar Richards, Liam Kelly, Aaron Tshibola and Jake Cooper.
To avoid any PFA Young Player of the Year scenarios where the eligibility of the award gets called into question, the criteria for Rookie of the Year is fairly strict. Candidates must:
- Have been 22 years old or younger on August 1 2019.
- Have made fewer than five Reading starts before the start of the season.
- Have made five Reading starts this season or a combined 10 sub appearances + starts.
- Not be on loan at the club.
With those rules taken into consideration, here is the four-man shortlist for this year’s award...
Appearances: 5 / TTE Average Rating: 5.4
Having made his debut on the final day of last season, all of Teddy Howe’s appearances in 2019/20 came as starts in cup competitions before he was sold on deadline day in January. There were certainly glimpses of potential in those fixtures, as the right-back provided a consistent attacking threat but looked a little uncomfortable defensively at times.
Some supporters had touted Howe to be a back-up to Andy Yiadom next season, but the 21-year-old was allowed to join Blackpool, who he had impressed against in two FA Cup ties, as his father and Royals CEO Nigel wished to let him make his own way in the game. Teddy is yet to make his debut for the League One side, but is expected to make a breakthrough next season.
Appearances: 14 / TTE Average Rating: 6.3
It’s fair to say Tom McIntyre is living the dream right now. A boyhood Reading fan, he’s now an established part of the first team squad, and were it not for injury, would have finished the season with six straight starts.
First called into action in August following Matt Miazga’s injury, he slotted seamlessly into a back three under Jose Gomes. His next opportunities came in cup games in January, including a performance against Blackpool that won him a TTE man-of-the-match award, before getting his most sustained run in the side yet after lockdown.
A left-footed centre-back is a rarity, making McIntyre a valuable asset to Reading, and his confidence on the ball and fearlessness in the tackle point to a very bright future.
Appearances: 23 / TTE Average Rating: 5.7
Still a teenager, Michael Olise has been given a level of responsibility this season that few others his age have been trusted with. He only turned 18 in December, but already he is a key part of how Reading set-up, missing just six league games in 2020.
The way that the French youth international effortlessly glides around the pitch is a joy to watch. Capable of playing out wide or centrally, he is abuzz with energy and has sensational skill on the ball, whether that be close control or playing a key pass to get Reading up the pitch.
The next step for Olise will be to add an end product to his game, having registered just one assist and no goals this season. Do that, and the Royals will have a ready-made replacement should John Swift depart.
Appearances: 8 / TTE Average Rating: 6.3
Gabriel Osho’s Reading future looked a little uncertain just a month ago, with his only appearances of the season having come in cup competitions - including away to Cardiff City where he scored in the penalty shoot-out. However an impressive run in the team in the final few matches of the campaign has seen his stock rise.
Osho has come through the academy as a centre-back, but was used as a right-back post-lockdown, which he adapted to with ease. Strong defensively, he began to gain more confidence going forward the more games he played and has proven himself to be a very capable understudy to Andy Yiadom. Now time to get that new contract signed.
Perhaps the player most unlucky to miss out on a nomination is Josh Barrett, now of Bristol Rovers, who required just one more start to be in the running. Meanwhile, there were first team debuts for Akin Odimayo, Andre Burley, Ramarni Medford-Smith, Jeriel Dorsett and Ben House this season, but none of them featured prominently enough.
Omar Richards, Andy Rinomhota, Danny Loader and Ovie Ejaria are all still young enough to be considered but had many too appearances prior to this season to qualify, with Ejaria’s loan status also making him ineligible.
Vote below by ranking the nominees from 1 (highest) to 4 (lowest). If you can’t see the poll on your device, click here.
2019 - Andy Rinomhota
2018 - Omar Richards
2017 - Liam Kelly
2016 - Aaron Tshibola
2015 - Jake Cooper