George Puscas has missed the last six for Reading with a shoulder injury, but will he be able to break back into the first-team?
Reading’s most expensive ever player, Puscas swapped the pristine streets of Milan for the Madejski in the summer, but his move hasn’t quite worked out as planned.
At times he’s a world beater and looks every penny of the £7.2 million that Jose Gomes gave Inter Milan for his services. He’s a player who possesses genuine pace and a direct mind, and has the ability to finish as well as anybody in the league.
But form has been an issue for the Romanian. Goals and assists have come few and far between this season, and at times he’s been called out by fans for his lack of effort when out of possession, sometimes looking uninterested and unhappy in a Reading shirt.
Under Mark Bowen, Puscas’ form saw a slight upturn and after coming off the bench to score a five-minute hat-trick at Wigan last month, it seemed as though he’d finally announced himself on the scene.
But as the story of his season goes – a five-minute hat-trick one week followed by a sub-par, sub-effort and goalless performance the next. Puscas started the next two games after the 3-1 win over Wigan back in November, but hasn’t featured since.
He picked up a shoulder injury in the 1-1 draw at Barnsley last month and has been sidelined since – in the six games that he’s missed, Reading have won four and drawn two, scoring 11.
His absence has come in the midst of Lucas Joao’s recent revelation. The Portuguese powerhouse was another of Gomes’ summer additions and after a debut goal for the Royals, he quickly fell out-of-favour and out of the team but like many others, Bowen has rekindled his season and he’s leading the front-line confidently.
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Joao has scored four in his last eight since returning from injury, playing in that lone-striker role and doing so brilliantly – plenty of Reading fans have sang their praise for the 26-year-old in recent weeks, and many believe him to be the club’s best attacking option as it stands.
With Joao nailing down that spot in the starting line-up, it’ll leave Puscas wondering whether he’ll be able to get back into the team when he returns to fitness. Along with that, the likes of Sone Aluko and Daniel Loader have recently returned to proceedings, leaving Puscas with some stern competition if he wants to be the main man at the Madejski.