Reading finally have some good news on the contracts front! Tom Holmes has agreed a new deal which is due to keep him at the SCL until the summer of 2025.
Holmes had been one of a host of first-team players with a contract expiring this summer. Reading ultimately chose to offer him new terms - along with Andy Rinomhota, Josh Laurent, Andy Yiadom and Femi Azeez - in addition to a significant number of younger players. Hopefully retaining Holmes’ services is the start of a broader trend.
We first learned of positive news on Holmes’ future on June 10, when the Reading Chronicle’s James Earnshaw reported that talks were “progressing well”. That was backed up by Berkshire Live’s Jonathan Low on June 14, before former Chronicle reporter Courtney Friday tweeted on June 16 that the deal was done.
It’s a big boost for Reading both in the broader context of squad planning and with regards to Holmes specifically.
On the former, the Royals badly need to get players signed up for next season. A swath of departures has left the club light on numbers going into 2022/23, so adding Holmes into the mix is great news.
He’s an important player to have in his own right however. Although Holmes needs to be more consistent in the future, he’s shown his current ability and longer-term potential as a ball-playing, solid centre half. Performances last season against Nottingham Forest (H), Hull City (H) and Sheffield United (A) stood out and earned him TTE man-of-the-match awards.
The second of those games included a stunning first Reading goal:
2021-22— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) April 22, 2022
└ ridiculous goals
└ holmes bicycle kick vs hull.mp4
It's #HULREA tomorrow - any further excuse needed to dig out this banger?
And any other players whose first Reading goal was as good as this one? pic.twitter.com/gDZ88zfsb7
For him to kick on though, I’d like to see him nail down one specific position in the side: right-sided centre half. Holmes generally played as a right back in his first season and often appeared as a left-sided centre half in 2022, but for me, he’s always looked most comfortable between those spots. After all, it’s a natural fit defensively given that he’s right-footed, while it’s also the best spot for his distribution.
There’s now a glaring gap right there in the absence of Michael Morrison, who’s due to leave at the end of his contract this month. Morro had been Reading’s regular right-sided centre half over the past few years - whether alongside Liam Moore, Tom McIntyre or anyone else. The Royals now have an opportunity to replace him in-house with a younger, more progressive option.
Paul Ince said: “In my short time here, Tom has shown that he is confident on the ball and can create from the back, as well as being powerful, brave and committed in defending his goal – a blend that makes him a real asset in the modern era.
“It is easy to forget that he is one of the younger members of the squad because he bears a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and is developing into a real leader, on and off the pitch. I’m delighted that he has chosen to commit to Reading and I’m looking forward to having him on board as we prepare for the challenge of a new season.”