Reading have boosted their centre-forward options by announcing the signing of free-agent Andy Carroll on a short-term deal. He’s set to stay until mid-January. Pauno told the club’s official site:
“This is a deal which we have been working on for some time and are confident it is the right move for both player and club. Andy is looking for a new challenge in his career and we need a player with his quality and vast experience! So this is a great match and I’m really looking forward to working with Andy over the next couple of months.”
He joins a squad that could use attacking reinforcements. Besides long-term absences for Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite, a few other options up top have seen their seasons strongly affected by injury. Femi Azeez and Junior Hoilett are currently definitely out, while Jahmari Clarke has reportedly been wearing a protective boot recently.
That leaves misfiring George Puscas as the only fit striker available to Veljko Paunovic. Given how suddenly a move for Carroll came about - reported on Monday morning, completely out of the blue - you’d suspect that Clarke has been ruled out due to injury for a not insignificant amount of time. That may have allowed Reading to get the go-ahead from the EFL to snap up Carroll.
Rumours of Carroll joining Reading first emerged late in the summer. In fact, this article was originally prepped as one for deadline day.
Former Newcastle striker Andy Carroll is in talks with Reading over a move to the Championship club on a free transfer. #readingfc #NUFC #DeadlineDay— Pete O'Rourke (@SportsPeteO) August 31, 2021
While that move never came to pass, Carroll confirmed in an interview with The Athletic in September that a transfer was still possible:
“The league (a club is in) doesn’t really bother me as long as the club is right for me and them, that’s what’s important. Not knowing where you’re going to end up is the toughest thing. I could end up at Reading, I could end up back at Newcastle, I could end up in Turkey or the United States or wherever, and it’s just that unknown.
So what will he bring to Reading? At 6ft4 he’s a presence in the box and an aerial threat, but much like Joao he is also good at holding the ball up and bringing others into play. While that’s not a perfect fit for the Royals (who don’t typically constantly knock crosses into the box for a big striker to head), Carroll should provide an effective outlet in the final third, holding the ball up when required.
He’s a similar signing to the arrivals of Scott Dann and Danny Drinkwater in the summer. He comes with good pedigree: nine England caps to his name in addition to 248 Premier League appearances for Liverpool, West Ham United and Newcastle United. However, he is considerably past his best: he has scored just one league goal in 49 appearances over the last three years.
As another body in the door, Carroll is welcome addition to Reading’s squad, even if he only helps George Puscas hold the fort up front until Joao returns in January. Welcome to Reading Andy!