The Royals have endured slow starts to their summer in recent seasons, with the club failing to recruit a single player until August last year because of their transfer embargo, meaning they started the 2021/22 campaign without a senior left-back in their squad.
Ince’s side should be able to move more swiftly in the coming days and weeks though with the Berkshire outfit finding out the budget they needed to work within last November as part of a business plan they agreed with the EFL.
Quiz: Can you name which club Reading FC sold these 23 players to from the last decade?
Although they will need to reduce their wage bill to avoid a further six-point deduction, several key first-teamers are on course to leave in less than two months on the expiration of their current contracts.
The second-tier side have moved to try and tie some of these players down to fresh terms, offering John Swift, Junior Hoilett, Femi Azeez, Josh Laurent, Andy Rinomhota and Tom Holmes new contracts and are close to agreeing a deal with Andy Yiadom.
Regardless of whether they sign on the dotted line or not, Ince wants to have some form of squad ready for pre-season as the Royals look to remain afloat in the second tier once again next term.
He said: “Firstly, we need to try to get some players signed up and some new players in.
“Last summer half of the lads who were playing for us didn’t have a pre-season – there were only about seven or eight senior players here for the pre-season weeks. We can’t have that again.
“So I’ll be working hard to make sure we have some sort of squad available to us at the start of pre-season.”
You could tell that late transfer business hampered the Royals during the 2019/20 and 2021/22 seasons, with the second-tier side bringing in several impressive additions during the former campaign.
However, the likes of Pele, George Puscas and Lucas Joao all had to adapt to life in Berkshire very quickly because of this and although they managed to stabilise themselves after a tricky first couple of months under Jose Gomes, you just feel that group of players would have benefitted from having a pre-season with each other.
Fast forward to now – and the situation is even more uncertain with so many key players out of contract. If every player that’s out of contract this summer leaves, they are in desperate trouble and this is why they will be working around the clock to get as many of these players tied down as quickly as possible.
The fact they seem to be closing in on an agreement with Yiadom is a big plus and Holmes is another player that could potentially stay considering his ties with the Royals – but it remains to be seen whether others put pen to paper.
They should be almost resigned to losing Swift though – because he could easily secure a move to a team higher in the second tier following an impressive season – recording 11 goals and 13 assists this term.