It’s been a summer of change at Reading, with a number of new signings arriving at the Madejski Stadium as Jose Gomes looks to build on some positive performances towards the end of last year’s campaign.
The Royals narrowly avoided relegation from the Championship, and will fancy their chances of a high-placed finish if their new additions can settle into life in Berkshire well.
One of the new signings that arrived was Everton goalkeeper, Joao Virginia in his first loan spell in the English football to date.
But he hasn’t made the impact he would have first hoped for, and has made some costly errors which have seen Reading drop points in recent weeks.
He let a tame shot slip through his grasp against Hull City to give Jarrod Bowen the simple task of scoring from a yard out to open the scoring in Reading’s 2-1 defeat last weekend.
Virginia’s shaky start in Jose Gomes’ side will have been a real cause for concern amongst supporters, but there was a sigh of relief when the Reading boss added another goalkeeper to his squad.
The Royals announced that they had signed former Brazil international, Rafael on a three-year deal after he cancelled his contract with Italian side, Sampdoria.
Rafael made his first start for the Berkshire-based side in the Carabao Cup against Wycombe Wanderers, and performed heroics throughout the match.
He saved two penalties in the shoot-out and won the Royals the game as they avoided a surprise cup exit at the very first hurdle.
So, the Brazilian’s impressive debut has certainly given Jose Gomes a welcome selection dilemma heading into their game with Cardiff City in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Sunday.
It seems likely that Rafael will keep his place in the side, especially after Virginia wasn’t even on the substitutes bench against Wycombe on Tuesday.
This speaks volumes and could spell the end of the Everton loanee’s time at the Madejski Stadium, which hasn’t gone as well as he would have first hoped for.
Reading can’t afford to be waiting around to see Virginia find his best form this season, as they could be in real danger of being relegated to League One if Gomes continues to persist with the Everton man between the sticks.
It won’t be any good for his confidence if he continues to make errors for the Royals, and Everton won’t want him to be disheartened in his loan spell in English football.
So, it certainly wouldn’t come as a surprise to see Reading cut his loan spell short, as the Toffees won’t want Virginia to be occupying a place on the substitutes bench for the season.
But Rafael has already shown his qualities and would be more than deserving of a regular starting spot for Jose Gomes’ side for the rest of this year’s campaign.
It’ll be interesting to see who Gomes opts to start against Cardiff this weekend, but if it is Rafael that does, then it’ll be a real cause for concern for Everton, who will have been keen to see Virginia get regular minutes under his belt this term.