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The Royal State Of Affairs: Central Defence

Wimb continues his look through Reading FC's squad heading into this summer's transfer window, with today's focus on the centre of the defence.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

What we've lost

Sean Morrison left the Madejski Stadium after the first game of last season, sealing a four million pound move to Championship rivals Cardiff. He was followed out the door in the past week by Alex Pearce, who has gone up to the iPro Stadium to join Derby after his Reading contract expired. Short-term signing Zat Knight has also departed, to the despair of absolutely nobody except maybe his Mum, agent and... well that's probably it.

What we've got now

Michael Hector was one of the few success stories of Steve Clarke's first six months in charge, with the soon-to-be Jamaica international earning rave reviews and being voted runner-up in our Player of the Season poll. Hector also penned a new contract with the club last month so he'll be either with us for a fair few years, or at least command a very hefty fee. Jake Cooper was another positive to come out of last season, with the towering centre-back earning several starts and being voted your Rookie of the Year. That being said, he's still pretty new to league football, with the 20-year-old having just 15 appearances to his name. At the other end of the scale, Reading do have a vastly experienced centre-back on their books in Anton Ferdinand. However, the former West Ham man lasted just 46 minutes across two games last season and you have to go back to January 2013(!) for Ferdinand's last 90 minute performance in English football.

From the Academy you've got the highly thought of Pierce Sweeney waiting in the wings having made a couple of brief first team appearances in pre-season games, while Rob Dickie and Dom Hyam both had successful loan spells in the Conference South last season.

What we need

With Ferdinand's fitness status holding more mysteries than a Game of Thrones end of season cliffhanger, it would seem unwise to head into the campaign relying on Hector, Cooper and another couple of Academy Graduates to hold the fort. Former Hull defender Paul McShane has been linked with a move to the club which while unspectacular, would certainly add some experience to the back-line, although he too has had his fair of injury problems. Once again the loan market could prove fruitful for Steve Clarke but with Ferdinand's contract on the books I think it's unlikely we'll be able to bring in more than one on a permanent basis.

Priority rating this Summer?