Losing Nigerian is a big blowReading manager Nigel Adkins has expressed his disappointment at losing Hope Akpan to injury.
The midfielder dislocated his shoulder during Nigeria’s 2-0 African Cup of Nations qualifying win against Congo on Saturday and now looks set to be out for around three months.
Adkins admitted that the setback is a big one, both to Akpan and the whole squad, but he is backing others to step in and fill the void.
“It’s a blow because he’s still very young and is working hard to improve,” the gaffer said. “We like to think that from when he joined to now that he has improved. That’s what we want all players to do here - individually and collectively within the team. It’s all about results, we know that, but we also like to think that we’ve helped Hope Akpan improve.
“For him to have gone away and been with the Super Eagles, the Nigerian national team, shows that his line of improvement has been very good.”
Akpan’s absence, which would have ruled him out of the African Cup of Nations had Nigeria qualified, opens the door for a couple of the club’s academy graduates.
Adkins said: “We’ve got Aaron Kuhl, who hasn’t trained this week after picking up an injury with the U21s, and Aaron Tshibola who came on against Nottingham Forest. He was out for six or seven weeks but he’s been very impressive in training lately.
“We’ve got Danny Williams, too, who had been out for a long time. That’s massively important. If people talk about us getting in a loan player, then Danny is like a brand new midfielder for us. There are players in house that are chomping at the bit to be involved.
“With the loan window, we’ve got seven days left of that and there is a lot of working going on behind the scenes for that, and the January window.”
Club captain Jem Karacan remains on the sidelines with his long-term knee problem. But Adkins insists that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the skipper.
He said: “We’ve got to be patient with Jem. We have spoken with the consultant and he is very confident that his knee is in a great place. He had a bit of swelling the other day and we have just got to manage that correctly.
“Jem is itching to be involved but we know that this is a long-term thing. The surgeon and consult was very happy and positive with the outcome of Jem’s situation. It’s frustrating for him but we have to go through each phase appropriately, to make sure that he recovers correctly.
“He has worked very hard and there was a reason why he got a bit swelling and the best thing to do now is make sure that it settles down. These things happen, he’s aware of that. His knee is very strong and stable and, from that point of view, there is a really good outcome to reach.
“This is just one of the little hiccups that sometimes arise. It’s frustrating for everyone but you have to deal with them.”