Hope Akpan gives Reading a creative spark in relegation scrap

The 21-year-old midfielder has enjoyed an excellent start to his career at Reading, and he might be vital to his side's attacking threat in the second half of the season.

Despite failing in their pursuit of both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Tom Ince, Reading's transfer window was successful in bringing in several new faces that are already starting to have an impact on the first team.

Amongst these was 21 year Hope Akpan, who joined from League One side Crawley on a three and a half year deal, and despite only playing one full match for Reading so far Akpan has already made his mark on his new side.

Against Chelsea and Newcastle United, Akpan came off the bench to provide the impetus for Reading's late resurgences in those matches. He provided the assist for Adam Le Fondre's winner against Newcastle, before setting up both goals in the dramatic comeback against Chelsea.

Akpan was rewarded with his first league start against Sunderland, and once again impressed as Reading picked up a 2-1 victory over Martin O'Neill's side.

Reading's impressive recent run has seen the climb to 17th in the league, two points clear of the drop zone. Given their pursuit of Sigurdsson and Ince, it's clear that Brian McDermott is looking to increase their creativity in the final third, and Akpan will be integral to that in the final few months of the season.

Whilst much of their threat will continue to come down the flanks, with the evergreen Ian Harte and new signing Stephen Kelly joining Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff in attacking down the wings, Akpan can add something extra in the middle, and make Reading a far harder side to defend against.

It's a lot of pressure for someone so young to deal with, especially as Akpan's previous experience has been confined to the lower leagues, but he has so far demonstrated himself to be up for the challenge.

Eminently comfortable on the ball, and with the highly prized ability to unlock defences, Akpan might end up being one of the best signings any Premier League side made in January.

image: © brokenkey

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