“I’ve got no choice”, said Paul Ince on his striking options after yet another game in which Reading shipped four goals, this time to play-off chasing Nottingham Forest.

Well, Mr Ince, there is another option you’ve not looked at.

These above were just a few of the plaudits 18-year-old Jahmari Clarke has received so far this season, when his minutes have been incredibly limited.

Strong, powerful, and certainly no slouch, Clarke has the attributes to be a real handful in the Championship.

Playing just 12 times for the first team this season in the Championship, at an average of 14 minutes per game, Clarke is the club’s joint fifth top goal scorer, with only regular’s John Swift, Lucas Joao, Tom Dele-Bashiru and Junior Hoilett having notched more, in a considerably longer amount of time on the pitch.

The date was Saturday, November 6- Birmingham.

Having just lost midweek to Millwall at the Den, more than 1200 Royals made the trip to St Andrews more in hope than expectation, and the first half went to script.

An early Liam Moore mistake let in Scott Hogan to open the scoring early, and the team looked a million miles away from getting back into the game.

At half-time the change is made and Clarke, only having turned 18 the previous month, took to the pitch in place of George Puscas and lit up the Second City.

Just nine touches, but three shots, and two crucial goals later, the Academy prospect had turned the game on its head and won the Royals three crucial points.

A new star was born, or so we thought.

In yet another blunder in a torrid season, a surprise start for the Under 23s side quickly put pay to that as within 48 hours the youngster was on the treatment table for an ankle injury.

In Veljko Paunovic’s final 15 matches, Clarke played just 22 minutes of first team football as the side won just two matches and lost a whopping nine.

Fresh start under a new manager maybe? An opportunity to impress, you would think?

Think again!

Under interim manager Ince, who has bemoaned a lack of competition and lack of options since his arrival, the 6’2” hero of Birmingham has been left on the bench, and not even making the bench on one occasion.

Now nobody is stating that he should be starting every week and that he is the key to survival. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But how are these youngsters supposed to prove they are worth a go without at least being given a proper opportunity?

Reading Chronicle:

18 players who learned their trade in the Royals academy have played for the side this season, it is the clubs pride and joy, or at least it has been in the past.

In difficult circumstances these young players have given their absolute all for the side, another question Ince has thrown toward some of his first team squad after defeats this season, so what is the issue with giving Clarke a run?

Four goal contributions in eight PL2 appearances, the Under 23s side, proves he knows where the back of the net is.

If Meite can’t play a full 90 (after playing 95 minutes at the City Ground), and Joao possibly struggling with the aftereffects of Covid-19, let’s give him a chance and see what he can do- we’ve got nothing to lose!