They may be flying high in the Championship table right now, but there’s an argument to be had that Reading could be even closer to an automatic promotion spot had they been stronger defensively.
And following Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup hammering to Manchester United, manager Jaap Stam has added Liverpool centre-half Tiago Ilori to his ranks.
So what can Royals fans expect from their new £3.75m man?
He’s certainly got the potential to make a real difference. Despite being 23-years-old, Ilori boasts an impressive CV, having played in four countries for some of Europe’s top teams.
Having represented Portugal at five different age levels on 39 occasions, it’s fair to say he’ll add plenty of experience to a back four which some might say are lacking in that department.
And while he’s yet to play a league game since arriving at Anfield in 2013, he’s been an important part of their U23 side this season.
Playing in nine of their 12 matches so far, the Reds have five clean sheets to their name from games in which Illori has played.
Having spent his early career at Sporting CP before being loaned out to Granada by Liverpool, Reading won’t be getting a no-nonsense defender.
Instead, the youngster is comfortable on the ball with pace to burn, and it’s likely he’ll tighten up a defence which has conceded more than any other side in the Championship top seven.
And the Berkshire outfit would do right to add such players to their ranks now. They’re very much in the running for promotion back to the top-flight, but as Saturday’s defeat at Old Trafford showed, they’ve still got a long way to go if they’re to establish themselves as a Premier League side.
In fact, since they were relegated to the second tier in 2013, they’ve lost five of their six cup meetings with Premier League opponents.
The only potential downside to Ilori’s arrival is that despite his experience of playing in some of Europe’s top divisions, he’s yet to experience life in the Championship.
However, should he settle quickly, there’s no doubting Reading will have a real gem at the heart of their defence.
Ilori could make his debut as early as this Thursday, when Queens Park Rangers visit the Madejski, and it’s 11/8 for Stam’s men to keep their first clean sheet since mid-November.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.