Congratulations to Nelson Abbey, who you voted as your October 2023 player of the month. While he didn’t face a lot of competition - it was a naff month overall for Reading - he was still thoroughly deserving of the award. Abbey took a whopping 87% of the vote, well ahead of Michael Craig (9%) and Dom Ballard (4%).
This award has been a while in the making for Abbey really. Overall he’s probably been Reading’s best, most consistent performer in 2023/24 thus far, and is surely the favourite at this stage to be our player of the season. However, he was pipped to the August award by Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan and didn’t quite make the September shortlist.
It’s remarkable to see just how far Abbey has come in a relatively short amount of time. Although he made his debut all the way back in September 2020 under Veljko Paunovic, Abbey took his time to properly break into the first team due to injury and, last season, a general lack of opportunities for young players under Paul Ince.
This season’s been a revelation for Abbey. He shone in the League Cup battering of Millwall - a game that should be remembered for Reading’s defensive resolve as much as the four goals scored - and never looked back. Abbey is the model of a modern, well rounded defender, combining mobility, tenacity, focus, aggression, composure on the ball and distribution.
In a season getting bleaker and bleaker in so many ways, it’s been a joy to watch a Reading lad shine in the first team, be trusted by the manager as captain of that first team, and be recognised on the international stage. Yep, Abbey was rewarded for his fine Royals form with a call-up for England’s under-20 side, playing against Portugal in Milton Keynes. If Abbey keeps his form up, there’ll surely be more international involvement for him in the future.
What also feels inevitable is Reading not keeping hold of Abbey. It’d be hard enough to retain his services if we were an established Championship side, let alone a League One team looking worryingly towards League Two. Still only 20, he’s a hugely talented centre-back that’ll undoubtedly be catching the eye of teams further up the pyramid.
TTE Player of the Month 2023/24 winners
August: Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan
September: Caylan Vickers
October: Nelson Abbey