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Paul Ince makes Reading FC player admission amid absence

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Reading manager Paul Ince has admitted his side look much more solid defensively when centre-back Tom Holmes is in the team, speaking to Berkshire Live after their 3-0 loss against Hull City at the weekend.

22-year-old Holmes first made his proper breakthrough at the Select Car Leasing Stadium last season and has continued to be a regular this term, making 31 league appearances for the Championship side during 2021/22 but has missed the last two games through illness.

This has been a blow for the Berkshire outfit who have needed to switch Tom McIntyre back from being a defensive midfielder to a centre-back alongside Michael Morrison, with Tom Dele-Bashiru coming in to support Danny Drinkwater in the middle of the park.

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During those two matches, the Royals have conceded seven goals in total, coming back from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 against Swansea City before suffering a 3-0 defeat against Hull City at the MKM Stadium on Saturday.

Currently holding the worst defensive record in the division, Ince’s side can perhaps count themselves lucky that they are already safe following Peterborough United’s loss against Nottingham Forest at the weekend.

Holmes has played a big part in that defence that has endured a torrid time this term, but despite that, the Royals’ interim manager believes they are much better defensively when he’s involved.

Speaking to Berkshire Live, he said: “We’ve looked more sturdy when he’s in there.

“To lose Tom Holmes is a major loss but fortunately, we’ve done enough to stay in this league.

“But hopefully, we can get him back for West Brom.”

The Verdict:

Holmes may have been part of a shoddy defence this term – but he has certainly shown flashes of brilliance and this is why it would be no surprise to see interest in his signature in the coming months with his contract running out in the summer.

At 22, he also has plenty of room for improvement still and this is why the Berkshire club should be looking to tie him down to a fresh deal, something they will be hopeful of considering he’s an academy gradate and boyhood supporter of the club.

He hasn’t just been a miss over the past couple of games because of his individual contribution – but also because of the fact McIntyre has been moved back into central defence and that’s a blow considering how good he was at Sheffield United alongside Drinkwater in midfield.

Ince should be tempted to bring Terrell Thomas in to allow McIntyre to return to the middle of the park – because it’s clear Dele-Bashiru isn’t suited to playing in a deep midfield role considering his last two performances.

The Royals will be hopeful of a return for Holmes on Saturday and although upcoming opponents West Bromwich Albion haven’t been prolific in front of goal this term, Ince’s men would benefit from having Holmes back in there to deal with the likes of Karlan Grant and Andy Carroll.


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: Paul Ince makes Reading FC player admission amid absence

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