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Opinion: Why Reading FC need to move for Fulham star to solve AFCON dilemma

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The African Cup of Nations is now confirmed to be going ahead next month, great news for participants but not so much for domestic clubs.

This update is particularly problematic for Championship side Reading, who face the real possibility of having both starting full-backs Baba Rahman and Andy Yiadom out for most of January and some of February as two Ghana internationals, a real blow to a team that has suffered heavily with injuries this term.

Both Rahman and Yiadom have been two of the first names on the teamsheet for the Royals this term, operating both as full-backs and wing-backs, driving the second-tier side forward and proving to be reliable assets at the back.

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Ali Al-Habsi?

With the Berkshire outfit’s transfer embargo hampering their ability to get deals over the line in the summer, their depth at full-back has been non-existent, with no senior backup available on the left and only Felipe Araruna, who has been injured for the vast majority of his time at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, there as an unreliable Yiadom replacement on the right.

The potential return of Tom McIntyre in January may help out on the left, with Tom Holmes playing at right-back for a sizeable chunk of the 2020/21 campaign, but that left Veljko Paunovic’s men with a noticeable lack of attacking threat going forward and the duo aren’t the quickest either, so having them in these unorthodox positions for more than a match or two isn’t the ideal scenario.

Some would say operating with a back three with two more advanced wide men in a slightly deeper role at wing-back could pay dividends, but the lack of wingers in their squad makes this a difficult system to try and utilise, making an addition or two at full-back a real necessity in January if they have the ability to do so.

Considering their current situation with the need to cut costs, the most likely addition at this stage will come in the loan or free-agent market, though Neil Taylor’s arrival at Middlesbrough has reduced the talent pool in the latter.

One player they could look towards though is Fulham’s Cyrus Christie, a man that hasn’t made a single appearance for the Cottagers in the second tier this season after being left out in the cold by Marco Silva, in favour of Kenny Tete and Denis Odoi.

Considering the 29-year-old made 44 league appearances for a Nottingham Forest side that conceded just 45 goals in 46 games last term and was a big part of why the East Midlands side were able to remain afloat in the division with relative ease despite their poor attacking record, he can count himself unlucky not to be involved a lot more.

Though his summer stay at Craven Cottage proved to be for the best for personal reasons, as he went on to detail in his interview with the Evening Standard last week, this is his time to move on now with the Republic of Ireland still having plenty of football left in the tank at 29.

Reading may not be able to finance a permanent move, but with his contract coming to an end at the end of the season and the full-back clearly not going to force his way into Silva’s plans in the English capital, a loan move to the end of the season with the Royals paying a small portion of his wages would be the best outcome for all parties.

Not only would he be useful in Rahman and Yiadom’s absence in the next month or so, but his presence could also allow the Berkshire outfit to play five at the back, one way of including all three players in the starting lineup with Yiadom performing reasonably well at centre-back when called upon.

Fighting a relegation battle may not be the most attractive offer he’ll get next month, but for Christie, it’s a chance to play first-team football and make a real impact at a club in their time of need.

Is there any better way of putting himself in the shop window ahead of a move away from Craven Cottage in the summer?

There is the chance that he could return to former side Forest if Djed Spence is recalled from the City Ground by parent club Middlesbrough, but that isn’t guaranteed and he should jump at the option to play Championship football again, so signing on at the Select Car Leasing Stadium this term wouldn’t be the worst move.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Why Reading FC need to move for Fulham star to solve AFCON dilemma

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