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Round-up: Our business in the winter window

1 February 2017

A recap of our transfer activity last month…

At 11pm on Tuesday evening, the January transfer window slammed shut™ for another year.

And up until the final stages, business was being done for the Royals – even as the team was in action at Birmingham City!

On the final day, three signings came in and two went out – rounding off one of the busiest winter windows in Royals history!  So here we round up all of the ins and outs of the last month…

Tiago Ilori
became the first name added to the squad during the mid-season transfer window, as the defender joined from Liverpool on a permanent deal on 18th January.

The centre-half had his transfer confirmed in time to make his Royals bow away at Derby County, and then made his first home appearance a few days later as we were 1-0 winners against Fulham.

An injury sustained in that fixture means that he has been unavailable for the last two, but he’s sure to feature many more times in the blue and white hoops – the Portuguese youth international has a contract until 2020 at Madejski Stadium.

Romanian international Adrian Popa was then the next to link up with the club, as a deal to take him from hometown club Steaua Bucharest was finalised on the penultimate day of the transfer window.

The winger’s move to Berkshire is his first away from his country of birth, and like Ilori, he has penned a deal until the summer of 2020 with the Royals.

Popa was named amongst the substitutes on Tuesday evening in the Midlands, as the Royals were 1-0 winners against Birmingham City.  He was unused at St Andrew’s, but could make his first appearance in our colours when we visit Ipswich on Saturday.

The first piece of deadline-day business to be concluded was the arrival of Jordon Mutch on a loan deal from Crystal Palace.

The deal wasn’t finalised in time for him to be eligible to feature against Birmingham City – whose academy he had been a part of – but the box-to-box midfielder could push for a place in the team this weekend.

Formerly of Cardiff and QPR before heading to Selhurst Park, Mutch now joins the Royals for the remainder of the campaign.

And just before we kicked off in Birmingham, we were able to announce Reece Oxford’s arrival from West Ham on a loan spell.

The versatile 18-year-old will also link up with the Royals until the summer.  After playing a few Europa League games with the Hammers last season, he truly caught the eye when he made his Premier League bow aged just 16 and helped keep Arsenal at bay in a 2-0 win.

Now he joins the Royals in search of more game-time and experience – and with the ambition of helping us to keep up the positive momentum in the closing months of the season.

With only an hour remaining of the window, Lewis Grabban became our final arrival – joining from AFC Bournemouth on a loan stint until the end of the campaign.

The forward, who already has a number of promotions under his belt throughout his career at various levels, links up with Jaap Stam’s squad and could make his bow against the Tractor Boys this weekend.

The Royals fought off interests of a number of other clubs to ensure that he would be available to lead the line in our colours until May.

There were also a few contract extensions penned as well during the month.  Before a single new face joined the club, some of our key players agreed deals to remain with the Royals.

Just before the end of 2016, Liam Kelly put pen to paper on a new Royals deal to keep him at Madejski Stadium until 2019.

Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi also penned a new deal with the Royals soon after the turn of the year, meaning that he too will be a Reading player for another two years after this summer.

And midway through the month, Garath McCleary also put pen to paper on his extension, committed his future to a place at Madejski Stadium until the summer of 2020.

There were also a number of outgoing loans too, as some of our talented Academy graduates have made moves to gain experience.

Three players extended their loan stints at League 2 promotion hopefuls – Craig Tanner, Jack Stacey and Tariqe Fosu agreed to stay at Plymouth, Exeter and Colchester respectively, with the teams currently sitting 2nd, 4th and 9th in the league standings.  They were joined in the division on deadline day by Stuart Moore, who linked up with Luton in time to debut against Cheltenham.

Also on deadline day, striker Dominic Samuel agreed to move to fellow Championship outfit Ipswich Town in order to gain more experience leading the line for a second-tier side.  He won’t be eligible to play against his parent club when we visit Portman Road this weekend.

Jake Cooper had made a move to League 1 outfit Millwall earlier in the month – and indeed he made his home debut for the Lions in an FA Cup fourth round triumph over Premier League side Watford… he wasn’t the only Reading Academy graduate to play their part in an upset that weekend!

Sean Long was one of them – he joined National League club Lincoln on a loan until the end of 2016/17 in time to be part of their remarkable FA Cup win over Championship leaders Brighton.  The Imps top the table, but Dagenham & Redbridge – who Jake Sheppard joined on loan until the end of the campaign – are just six points behind in fourth.

Goalkeeper Joe Tupper will see out the season as a Carshalton Town loanee, while fellow first-year pro Harrison Bennett linked up with Margate on a one-month youth loan.  Two players joined Brighton’s Under-23 setup – goalkeeper Billy Collings on a permanent transfer, and forward Harry Cardwell on a loan until the end of the season.

Two young defenders headed north of the border to chance their arms in the Scottish Premiership.  Niall Keown has headed to Partick Thistle and Zak Jules linked up with Motherwell, with both loans deals set to expire in the summer.

Axel Andresson’s existing loan spell with Bath City is due to run until 26th February and George Legg’s stint at Hungerford is set to expire on 29th April.  Loan deals for Rob Dickie (Cheltenham), Zak Jules (Braintree), Jonathan Bond (Gillingham), Dominic Hyam (Portsmouth) and Aaron Kuhl (Boreham Wood) have all now expired and they are back in training at Hogwood.

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