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Reading Snap Up Free Agent Junior Hoilett

The Royals have brought the free agent in on a one-year deal.

Reading v Cardiff City - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Completely out of the blue, Reading have their second signing of the summer: Junior Hoilett. The 31-year-old winger, who was a free agent after leaving Cardiff City at the end of last season, has joined on a one-year deal. Arriving before midday on Friday means he’ll be eligible for the matchday squad on Saturday.

This signing is exactly what the doctor ordered. Reading had been crying out for a new wide player even before this summer for the sake of depth and variety in the final third, and a series of exits and injuries has only increased that need. In fact, this is the first time Reading have signed an out-and-out winger on a permanent basis since Modou Barrow joined in the summer of 2017.

What’s more, his level of experience (205 appearances in the Championship, 161 in the Premier League) will add another dimension to an otherwise young squad - particularly in forward positions.

This is the first permanent signing made by Pauno. The gaffer was naturally delighted to get the signing over the line, and told the club:

“Junior is a player with proven pedigree at the highest level, having competed in the Premier League with three different clubs. An experienced international, Junior will play an important role in helping our young players integrate within the first-team squad and improve as professional players. On the pitch, his intelligence and maturity in the final third will make him an excellent addition to the squad we are looking to strengthen.”

Unlike pretty much every other signing in modern football, this one wasn’t leaked beforehand. So the club’s tease of a new addition at 6.10pm on Thursday took everyone by surprise. The Hoilett link does however go back a little way. Jonathan Low reported in early July that the Royals had “expressed an interest” in Hoilett, although news on that front dried up.

When we asked for your thoughts on Reading bringing in Hoilett at the time of that report, just over 44% of you approved, with just over 32% disapproving.

Hoilett joins Reading on the back of experience with three other clubs in English football: Blackburn Rovers (2007-2012), Queens Park Rangers (2012-2016) and Cardiff City (2016-2021). During the latter two spells he’s built up experience of getting into the Premier League. Hoilett was part of QPR’s play-off-winning side of 2014, and the Cardiff team that went up automatically on the final day of the 2017/18 season against Reading.

Looking at the broader picture, Hoilett’s arrival suggests that other signings could well be a matter of time. New additions have taken their time in being finalised, but with Hoilett and Tom Dele-Bashiru now through the door, hopefully there are more to come.