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Reading Bolster Defensive Options With Terell Thomas

The Royals have a new defender for the last eight games of the season.

Leeds United v Crewe Alexandra - Carabao Cup - Second Round - Elland Road Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images

Reading have a new defender... well, for eight games or so at least. The latest recruit is Terell Thomas, a 26-year-old centre back, who’s joined on a short-term deal as a free agent. He’s the Royals’ 12th signing of the season and the seventh permanent addition of the campaign.

If the name sounds familiar, it’s probably because he’s been here for a little while now. Thomas has been on trial with the Royals for around a month, playing three times for the under-23s: a 4-3 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers in late February, 0-0 at Birmingham City and 2-1 home win over Burnley. Unusually, despite being referred to as a triallist by the club, he was named on the teamsheet in each of those matches rather than being put down as “triallist”.

CEO Dayong Pang said:

“We have eight games remaining this season and we want to give ourselves the very best chance of winning our fight for second tier survival in the last six weeks of the campaign. Terell has been training well with our first team and has been professional and patient in his attitude and application on the training pitch and adding him to our first team group will bring competition for places at the back, helping to push our players to be at their very best in search of the points we need to stay up.”

Thomas’ most recent club was Crewe Alexandra, where he only stayed for around half a season. He signed last summer and made 16 appearances before his contract was mutually terminated at the end of January. By all accounts it wasn’t a great spell for him in his career, given he was kept out of the side by academy defenders.

Earlier stages of his career included youth stints with Arsenal and Charlton Athletic, loan spells in non-league football with Woking and Sutton United, plus a short stint with Wigan Athletic in 2017/18. His most significant spell however was three seasons in League One with AFC Wimbledon which ended with him being linked to Championship clubs, but ultimately preceded the move to Crewe.

So no Championship experience. Instead, Thomas hasn’t got above the third tier, and even then he’s hardly excelled - otherwise he wouldn’t be available on a free transfer at this stage of the season anyway really.

Still, he’s an extra body for a squad that’s often been battered by injuries this season, particularly in defence. Reading have on numerous occasions had to rejig the back four simply based on who’s been fit - for example Andy Yiadom filling in at centre back and left back, with Andy Rinomhota and Dejan Tetek both slotting in at right back.

As things stand, Reading can call on centre backs Tom Holmes, Michael Morrison, Scott Dann and Tom McIntyre. The latter has had to cover for the injured Baba Rahman recently at left back, but the Ghanaian will hopefully return to action after the international break. Put Yiadom into the mix and the Royals’ options look strong for the final eight games.

So, right now it’s highly unlikely Thomas will start, and it’s not much more probable that he’ll get onto the bench. Regardless, an unexpected injury or two would throw a spanner in the works; in that eventuality, Reading wouldn’t want to be left regretting not signing another defender when they had the chance. Anyway, given his probably very low wages, there’s no financial risk here.

In that light, bringing him in makes sense. There probably however isn’t enough time for him to make an impression at first-team level, so I’m expecting him to stay on the fringes like Brandon Barker has done since joining.

Miscellaneous things of no consequence whatsoever

  • His name sounds like that of comedian Terry Thomas, which I’ve found quite amusing and reckon could be handy if any headline writers out there need a pun.
  • Thomas (the footballer that is) prefers The Batman to Spiderman: No Way Home. TTE doesn’t have an official editorial line on this, but I’d say Thomas is bang on, so he gets some bonus points from me at least.