Free agents the Royals should look to target this campaign

The EFL Championship season is underway and, after a mixed start for Reading, there is a feeling of optimism that the club is going in the right direction.

After the signings of Matt Miazga, Ovie Ejaria, George Puscas and others, Reading are unlikely to have too much more money left in the coffers.

And, with the transfer window now shut, boss José Manuel Gomes may have to wheel and deal in the market if he wants to bolster numbers.

The Royals are not favourably priced to enjoy success this season, but they have beaten Cardiff 3-0 at the Madejski, the squad looks stronger this term – and Gomes has got fans on side in a way that arguably no manager has done since Brian McDermott’s first spell in charge.

For those who want a flutter, there are now tools like the oddsmonkey calculator that can help your betting technique.

Here are four realistic targets that could make an impact for the Royals this season:

Diego Poyet

The one downside to Gomes’ 3-1-4-2 setup is, with the powerful and willing yet technically limited Pele sitting in front of the back-three, there can be issues playing out from the back – especially with Michael Morrison, who himself is not comfortable on the ball, in defence – and that was exposed in the 2-0 home loss to Charlton with which Reading concluded August.

Diego Poyet, though was very highly rated at Charlton five years ago – he looked neat and tidy in possession. While the subsequent move to West Ham did not quite work out – and thus we have seen left-field moves to Argentina and Cyprus – Poyet will not have lost his talent entirely. Gomes seems to have a magic touch with very gifted players who might have faced question marks over their attitude, so perhaps he could bring in the 24-year-old as a deep-lying playmaker option.

Gary Hooper

Although Hooper has had his injury problems over the years, on his day he is a real threat at this level.

The Harlow-born front-man made his name at Scunthorpe, whom he inspired to promotion in 2008-09, then bagged 63 goals in 95 games for Celtic – which shows he is a natural finisher.

In Championship terms, not once has Hooper featured in more than 23 league games and failed to hit double-figures, so with the right creativity he could bag a hatful for the Royals – although there would be competition in the form of Puscas plus Lucas namesakes Joao and Boye.

Wilfried Bony

When he first burst on the scene for Swansea, Bony was a revelation – he scored 26 goals in his first 54 games in English football.

Since a big money move to Manchester City, Bony’s career has declined somewhat over question marks over his movement and attitude.

And yet, there were similar question marks surrounding Joao, who Gomes has converted into a forward who will give a lot more for the cause – it is possible he could do something similar with Bony, although he is 30 with less time to develop and would be an expensive option.

Queensy Menig

The flying Dutchman has achieved international recognition in his career, playing for Holland at four different age groups up to Under-21s.

He has represented Ajax for 10 years, having joined them at youth level in 2017 and even managing to play three senior games for them.

Menig got fans off seats while playing as part of a poor, ultimately relegated, Oldham side in League One in 2017-18, prior to a loan spell at PEC Zwolle.

At 24, the speedy wide forward still has time to carve out a successful career and, similarly to Poyet, Gomes may be the type of manager to coax the best out of him.

While Reading’s current squad is currently geared towards a wing-back system – or possibly a diamond – it could potentially leave them short of pace and width, so Menig could offer something different on the fringes.