Championship side Reading are not willing to sell centre-back Tom Holmes during the January transfer window despite interest from league rivals Nottingham Forest, according to The Athletic’s Paul Taylor.
The 21-year-old has been a real asset for the Royals since the start of last season, initially filling in at right-back in the absence of Andy Yiadom and Felipe Araruna but switching to his more natural position in the centre more recently.
From becoming a squad depth utilised to provide depth, Holmes has now become one of the first names on the teamsheet for the Royals alongside Scott Dann and is putting in performances that have made teams sit up and take notice.
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Although his overhead kick against Hull City at the start of last month was sublime, it’s his defensive prowess that has shone through at the Select Car Leasing Stadium and has transformed himself from being a rookie to a key man for the second-tier side.
But the bad news for the Berkshire outfit is the fact his contract runs out at the end of the campaign – one of many first-teamers who is due to leave the club in the summer.
With the restrictions they are facing from next season as part of a business plan agreed with the EFL, they will have to choose carefully who they want to keep and who to let go, with John Swift one man they are probably resigned to losing.
However, Holmes is one player the club may be able to keep. He may be talented – but he still has plenty to learn yet and as a boyhood Reading fan – he is likely to want to extend his stay at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.
The 21-year-old probably won’t get the pay rise he’s craving – but he’s unlikely to be on a huge wage currently anyway as a younger player and if taking a lower wage means he’s able to remain near the area he grew up and continue playing for the club he loves – it would be hard to see him not putting pen to paper on a new deal.
Berkshire Live have even reported that he is keen to remain with the club, so despite the contrasting situations interested side Forest and the Royals currently themselves in with the former potentially pushing for promotion, he may not want to move on just yet with Premier League football at the City Ground not guaranteed next season.
And he looks like one of the only players who could possibly remain at the club, with midfielder Swift attracting top-flight interest, Josh Laurent previously being monitored by Rangers, Brighton and Steve Cooper’s men and Andy Yiadom not likely to be short of any offers, having probably commanded a hefty wage after joining the Royals on a free transfer in 2018.
Because of these restrictions and the likelihood of a mass exodus in the summer, the Royals’ academy is likely to be utilised to the maximum, something that could help to give them an identity despite the potential inexperience of the squad in pursuing this strategy.
If they can have academy graduates like Holmes and Tom McIntyre leading the way, that can only be a good thing for the Berkshire side who will need to rebuild with those that are fully committed to the cause.
For a man that bleeds blue and white, his journey at the club is unlikely to be up just yet.