Reading goalkeeper Rafael Cabral has suffered a broken hand since last Saturday’s tie against Queens Park Rangers according to Berkshire Live’s Jonathan Low, ruling him out of the Royals’ clash against Peterborough United.
The Brazilian has not only been an ever-present figure in goal for the Berkshire outfit under Veljko Paunovic, but ever since his arrival on a free transfer back in the summer of 2019 after cancelling his contract with Serie A side Sampdoria.
This leaves backup goalkeeper Luke Southwood as his natural replacement, although the 23-year-old has only made one competitive appearance for the Royals so far this season and only made his Championship debut in May against Huddersfield Town.
Are each of these 18 celebrities a Reading supporter or not?
The academy graduate, who has impressed on loan spells at Bath City, Eastleigh and then-Scottish Premiership side Hamilton, has rarely been given a first-team opportunity at the Select Car Leasing Stadium since coming through the youth ranks.
But with 31-year-old Rafael suffering a suspected broken hand, he is likely to be between the sticks for the foreseeable future unless the Championship club decide to pursue an emergency loan deal, which could potentially be a possibility if Southwood steps up to the plate.
With Icelander Jokull Andresson out on loan at Morecambe for the remainder of the campaign and little prospect of being able to recall him at this stage, it will be another academy graduate in 18-year-old Coniah Boyce-Clarke who is set to make the step up to the bench.
This will be a huge test for Luke Southwood, who will have been waiting for an extended stint in goal for the Royals for a very long time – and now he’s set to have that opportunity – it’s a chance he needs to take with both hands.
After giving the 23-year-old a new contract at the end of last season, with Rafael’s deal coming to an end next summer and the second-tier side yet to tie him down to a new deal at this stage, he could potentially be the Brazilian’s natural successor.
However, he will also need to keep an eye over his shoulder for the likes of talented youngsters Andresson and Boyce-Clarke who will both be eager to take that potential number one jersey away from him.
20-year-old Andresson has been given the platform in League One to make his case to manager Veljko Paunovic and the coaching team during the 2021/22 campaign, with England youth international Boyce-Clarke previously attracting interest from the Premier League for his performances in the Royals’ academy.
That’s a source of excitement for Reading fans, but the injury to Rafael is a gutting one because on his day, he can make a string of world-class saves in a game. He will be hoping to return to action as soon as possible after rarely being out of the starting 11 in Berkshire.