Five questions Paul Clement needs answered in Austria
- Jonathan Low
- 16 July 2018, 16:00
Royals boss Paul Clement. Credit: Eddie Greville
Reading FC are out in Austria this week for a training camp ahead of the new Championship season.
There is plenty for manager Paul Clement to work on, with a series of training sessions and two games against high-level opposition planned.
Royals are without a win in pre-season so far with two defeats and a draw to their name and, although results are meaningless at this stage, the boss will be eager for his side to get going.
With the start of the Championship campaign under three weeks away, time is of the essence and there are some important issues which need addressing.
Here is a closer look at five key questions Clement will be looking to answer in Austria.
Gunter or Yiadom at right back?
A number of starting spots across the team are still up for grabs but none more so than at right back.
Chris Gunter has been the mainstay in that area for Royals over the past six years but his place is now under serious threat from new signing Andy Yiadom.
It is unlikely Clement would have signed Yiadom to sit on the bench all season, but even so, it will be a massive call to drop Gunter.
Either way, the issue needs to be resolved one way or the other to ensure the pair know where they stand going forward.
What formation to use?
As we highlighted at the end of last week, with the personnel at the manager's disposal, a whole host of formations are possible.
Some are more likely than others and tradition would dictate Clement opts for a 4-3-3 but it could depend on any key players arriving at or departing from the club in the coming weeks.
Ideally, Royals need to settle on one which they can fully focus on during the final two weeks of pre-season.
Having the flexibility to change is important, but at the same time being unclear in how to play could be hugely detrimental to Royals' chances of success.
How does McNulty fit in?
McNulty made his first appearance for Reading on Saturday. Credit: Eddie Greville
Much is going to be expected of new striker Marc McNulty both in terms of goals and assists so Clement needs to work out the best way of fitting him into the starting 11.
McNulty came on for the final 20 minutes of Saturday's draw with Fulham and, despite some promising runs, hardly touched the ball.
It's important McNulty gets a good work out with his new teammates so he can hit the ground running in three weeks' time.
Will he be played alone up front, or alongside someone like Jon Dadi Bodvarsson? That's the question which needs answering as soon as possible.
What's needed to get Swift and Aluko back to their best?
Reading's John Swift during Eastleigh v Reading at Silverlake Stadium. Credit: Eddie Greville
Two key players for this coming season will be John Swift and Sone Aluko. Both have plenty to offer in terms of goals and assists.
Swift struggled last year due to a persistent hamstring injury but a break over the summer should ensure he goes into the season afresh.
Aluko, meanwhile, had an awful debut season for Reading after joining from Fulham for a club record fee. He will hope for a new start under Clement and will be eager to get Royals fans back on side.
The pair have looked sharp in pre-season and another good week in Austria should set them up nicely for the season ahead.
How do Reading rediscover the winning feeling?
Reading will clash against two top European clubs in the coming days, with Besiktas on Tuesday and Rubin Kazan on Friday.
Both are likely to be at similar stages in their preparations for the new season and will provide stern tests for Royals.
A win in either game would provide Royals with a huge boost in confidence which is extremely important given the patchy start so far (two defeats and a draw).
The common saying is that results do not matter in pre-season, but no team likes losing games and, with a good start to the campaign imperative for Royals, a win could do the world of good.
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