Luton Town defender Gabriel Osho said a lack of guaranteed playing time was the main reason why he left fellow Championship side Reading last summer, revealing this in an interview with Sky Sports.
The 23-year-old, who is now a first-team regular at Kenilworth Road, joined the Royals at a young age and rose through the ranks as he became captain of the Under-23s side.
But this prestigious role at an elite academy didn’t translate into regular first-team opportunities until the latter half of the 2019/20 campaign under former boss Mark Bowen – and it was only an injury crisis in 2018 that gave Osho the opportunity to make his senior debut for the Berkshire side.
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In his last couple of seasons at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, he was stuck behind the likes of Liam Moore, Tiago Ilori, Paul McShane, John O’Shea, Tyler Blackett and fellow academy graduate Tom McIntyre, making a pathway to the first-team almost invisible.
But with Andy Yiadom out of action in early July last year and Chris Gunter being dropped following a 3-0 home loss to Brentford in the previous game, the defender was given a chance at right-back away at Luton Town and it was an opportunity he took with both hands.
The Royals won 5-0 that day and with Osho impressing and playing a big part in the second goal, he started the following three league games. From there, it looked as though he would have an increased role in the first team.
But he rejected a new contract in favour of leaving the club, even with John O’Shea’s retirement, because he believed his opportunities at a senior level would still be limited.
Speaking to Sky Sports about his exit from Berkshire, he said: “It was tough because I had been there since I was eight years old.
“I had played a couple of times for them in the first team but I just felt that with their recruitment I did not see a way for me to be playing regularly so it was a hard time.”
After initially looking like he had no future at the Hatters, the 23-year-old has established himself as a key man in the Bedfordshire side’s defence and has already made four league appearances this term, potentially a bright sign of things to come.
Reading could do with a man like Osho right now. Not necessarily in his natural position at centre-back after Scott Dann’s arrival, although you could argue he would be a pacier option alongside the 34-year-old, but at right-back.
Usual first-choice man Andy Yiadom has remained fit in the opening five league games of the 2021/22 campaign – but touted understudy Felipe Araruna has failed to keep himself fit throughout his time in Berkshire and the Luton Town defender would probably be a better alternative on the right to Tom Holmes – who is undoubtedly better in the middle.
Many Reading supporters would have argued they wouldn’t have seen the emergence and progression of Holmes without Osho’s departure, but with the Royals spending a huge amount of money on unnecessary wages in recent years, he was probably one man they would have wanted to keep.
In a situation where the player wants to leave at the end of his contract, there was not much Reading could do at that time. But perhaps this departure just goes to show how poor some of their recruitment was between 2017 and 2019.
They will be hoping to learn from previous spending, their current EFL restrictions and academy players that got away to operate more sustainably going forward. The emergence of the likes of Osho, Michail Antonio, Jack Stacey and Tariqe Fosu goes to show they have the academy to be successful, now is the time to fully utilise it.