Will this player Hope to prove a point against Everton this weekend?

Reading Madejski 3

Released by The Toffees in 2011 Hope Akpan has worked his way back to the Premier League with Reading via Crawley Town. Could he prove a point or two on his return to Merseyside this weekend?

This weekend Everton face Reading hoping to put behind them the defeat of last week when they threw away a winning position in the last five minutes against Norwich City.

Since then they have overcome Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup to book a quarter-final date against Wigan Athletic and in that tie they faced up against a former youth team protégé. Jose Baxter struggled to impose himself on the game; but we wouldn’t be saying that if when he beat Tim Howard with his one-on-one effort there was slightly more resolutions on the ball. As it was it hit the post and the dream of a goal at Goodison faded away with Oldham’s FA Cup dream.

Everton are looking for retribution over The Biscuitmen after an awful showing at the Madejski Stadium in the reverse fixture back in November. This weekend however Everton will once again have to face off with a former youth team player when they welcome Reading to Goodison Park.

When Reading signed Hope Akpan for £650k in January from Crawley Town of League One status many people raised eyebrows at the suitability of the transfer; some even suggested Reading were using their Premier League status to simply supply their team with the necessary ammunition for an immediate return to the top flight when they were inevitably relegated.

It was a strange deal on paper considering the 21-year-old Liverpudlian had no Premier League experience but he has been a revelation for The Royals since his winter arrival; playing a vital role in their survival battle.

Akpan started his career at Everton but only ever made one appearance for the first team when he started in a much changed side for a dead-rubber Europa League game against BATE Borisov in December 2009.

In 2011, despite his obvious qualities, he was allowed to join Crawley Town on a free transfer and went on to help the team earn promotion to League One last season.

His team-mate Garath McCleary has been speaking to the local media about the game; and the potential points his team-mate may have to prove this weekend:

“I was speaking to Hope about going back to Everton the other day and he’s really looking forward to it.’’

While Hope himself has insisted that his focus will be 100% on the game and Reading FC:

"It's going to be an exciting game for me [but] first and foremost I am a Reading player and that is my main focus. I'm happy to be going back to Goodison Park and am super excited. I was there since I was eight and I had a lot of experiences there but you have to live in the moment."

Although you can be sure a rare goal this weekend would mean much more than usual.

Could Akpan have made the grade at Goodison Park?

images: © markhillary, © kijana

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