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…
New Reading manager Mark Bowen will be preparing his side for a huge clash at the Madejski Stadium tomorrow, when the Royals face an in-form Preston North End, as they look to secure only their third win of the season.
Ahead of the match, Bowen has a number of selection decisions to make, some bound to centre on a number of players discounted by previous boss Jose Gomes, players like striker Sam Baldock who has only managed two cup appearances so far this season.
So should Bowen look to give a start to Baldock?
“Mark Bowen takes charge of his first Reading game tomorrow against Preston North End, and starting Sam Baldock up front could quickly turn the tide in Bowen’s favour when it comes to popularity with fans.
“The 30 year-old forward has bags of experience in the Football League, having played over 300 games in the EFL and netted almost 100 goals for previous clubs such as West Ham United and Bristol City.
“Baldock’s ability run the channels and his adaptability to play in either a front two or as a lone striker marks him out as a striker who is so hard to mark no matter how he’s playing.
“Reading have been struggling for goals all season long, and if Baldock gets a chance to show what he’s made of against Preston, then it could be a stroke of genius by Bowen.”
“I think it’s worth considering.
“Reading’s attack hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders of late, so it could be argued that this is a change worth making purely for experimental purposes, to see if it can provoke something of a response from Bowen’s new side.
“Having been stuck on the sidelines so far this season, Baldock will surely see this as an opportunity to establish himself in the side under a new manager, which may help to bring the best out of him were he to get the call on Saturday.
“Considering Preston’s position in the current Championship standings in comparison to Reading’s, there may be some around the Madejski Stadium who will see this as something as free hit for the Royals, which could make it a good opportunity for some of the fringe players such as Bladock to prove their worth.”
Should Mark Bowen look to give a start to striker Sam Baldock?
“Although Mark Bowen needs to make a number of alterations to Reading’s side for their clash with Preston North End, Baldock may not necessarily be the answer to their woes.
“Whilst the forward did illustrate some signs of promise during the previous Championship campaign, a lack of consistency resulted in him only being able to find the back of the net on five occasions.
“With the likes of Lucas Joao and George Puscas currently ahead of Baldock in the pecking order at the Madejski Stadium, Bowen may find it beneficial to use the former MK Dons man as an impact substitute tomorrow.
“In desperate need of a positive result having not won any of their last seven games in all competitions, the Royals could call upon Baldock to deliver the goods in the dying embers of Saturday’s clash.”