This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
The additions of Scott Dann and Danny Drinkwater (loan) were two of the more eye-catching additions at the Select Car Leasing Stadium this summer for Reading, after signing on with the Royals for the remainder of the 2021/22 campaign.
Both have a wealth of Premier League experience, though they arrive at the club in different circumstances. After being released by Crystal Palace in the summer, Dann has dropped down to the Championship in a bid to win regular playing time in what could be one of his last seasons as a professional footballer at 34.
Drinkwater, meanwhile, is three years younger and is looking to revive his career in Berkshire after becoming an outcast at Premier League giants Chelsea, initially moving to Stamford Bridge from Leicester City for a £35m fee.
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Dann will be competing for a spot with the likes of Michael Morrison, club captain Liam Moore and academy graduate Tom Holmes whilst Tom McIntyre remains out for the next few months with a foot injury.
Considering the fact the Royals conceded four away to Huddersfield Town in their last league game, getting a chance to impress in the starting lineup may not be a hard task for the ex-Crystal Palace man, although Drinkwater faces a tough tussle with regulars Josh Laurent and Andy Rinomhota for a spot in midfield.
A start for either isn’t guaranteed though – and because of this – we asked three of our FLW writers whether they think the duo would be regular starters for the Royals.
I think they will become big players, yes.
Reading have obviously found it tough to bring in new players this season, so the additions of Dann and Drinkwater were very much needed.
The Royals have quite a young squad, particularly at the back, so bringing in someone like Dann could really help them along.
This could also be the same case for Drinkwater. He’s won the Premier League and it wasn’t too long ago Chelsea were paying big bucks for him.
Their team needs freshening up, and if they are both fit, they should both start.
Reading definitely needed some added experience in the final few days of the transfer window to arrest them from their poor form, and I can see Dann and Drinkwater helping.
Whether both go straight into Paunovic’s starting 11 though remains to be seen but I wouldn’t have thought that Drinkwater in particular walks right in there.
The engine room is the last of Reading’s problems and it’s perhaps the most solid part of the pitch, with Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent forming a strong partnership last season.
Depth was definitely required though and that is what Drinkwater provides, and he also has a touch of class and is perhaps someone the two younger midfielders can learn from – his lack of game-time in recent years though means that it may be a while before Paunovic even considers starting him.
Dann though I can see usurping Michael Morrison from Pauno’s plans in the near future – he hasn’t had a great start to the campaign and with 15 Premier League matches last season under his belt, Dann is still an effective defender at the age of 34.
Liam Moore is the undisputed first-choice centre-back but it’s just a case of who his partner is going to be for the majority of the season with Tom McIntyre on the sidelines, and I can see it being Dann soon enough.
I can see Scott Dann coming straight into the Royals XI assuming he’s fit enough for selection.
The Reading defence has been under intense scrutiny over the last few weeks which peaked after their 4-0 humiliation to Huddersfield Town last time out at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Paunovic needs to freshen up the backline and I can see Dann coming in for Michael Morrison to partner Liam Moore at centre-back, whilst Baba Rahman will come in at left-back to shore up that area of the pitch.
In-terms of Drinkwater, his pedigree and experience at the highest level could prove invaluable to Reading, but I can see him gradually being eased into the team, but whether he comes in for Josh Laurent or Andy Rinomhota is a tough one to question.
The aforementioned duo have struck up an impressive partnership in midfield so Paunovic will face a tricky decision here if he wants to utilise Drinkwater.
Though, it could call for a change in formation which could see Drinkwater play alongside both Rinomhota and Laurent.