PAUL CLEMENT says he is “very confident” of adding at least one new striker to the squad.
Reading have already made three summer signings with the free transfers of defenders Andy Yiadom and John O’Shea as well as midfielder David Meyler.
But with a lack of goals a big problem throughout most of last season, Clement says the focus in the market for the coming weeks is clear.
“I think we move into a critical period now where we’re looking to do something in the striker position,” said the Royals boss.
“Hopefully that will be more than one player. We’ve been working all summer on this.
“When you start to deal with players where transfer fees are involved, it does become a little bit more complicated.
“But we’re very confident that we’re going to bring in one or two really good players in the centre-forward position.
“I think we need to be realistic in terms of budget, in terms of Financial Fair Play and in terms of who you can attract to this club, but I think we’ll bring in players that make us competitive.”
He added: “The priority is a striker.
“If we got that done early and we were in a good position, we could always look at the cherry on the cake or a little bit of a bonus coming up towards the end of the window, whether that be a signing or a loan of a good young talent.
“We’d always be open to something.
“But we’ve also got to consider the size of the squad we’ve got, I think it’s too big.
“We’re trying to increase quality and reduce the quantity slightly.”
An area of the squad which could see a departure is the centre of midfield.
Following the arrival of Meyler, the futures of Joey van den Berg and George Evans have come into question, given they struggled to get much match time since the arrival of Clement.
And the Reading boss did not play down rumours that van den Berg could be set for a return to Holland.
“Joey is here (training),” said Clement.
“It’s going to be difficult in midfield.
“If you add up the amount of midfielders that we have and whether I play with two midfielders or three midfielders, there’s a lot more midfielders than there are places on the pitch.
“So it’s going to be very competitive.”
The Royals have also been linked with a move for Aston Villa’s Tommy Elphick after he returned to the Midlands following a loan spell at the back end of last season.
But Clement says that unless somebody departs, such as player of the season Liam Moore who has been linked to Brighton and Hove Albion, he has no plans to make a move for another defender.
“As we speak we’ve got four central defenders in O’Shea, (Liam) Moore, (Paul) McShane and also (Tiago) Ilori as well,” he said.
“If that stays as it is, there won’t be a need to add another centre-back. But if anything changes then it’s a different situation.
“Tommy (Elphick) is a player that I liked. Unfortunately he didn’t play much football here because of his injury but even in that last game and a half, he showed that he’s got good ability and could be a good potential player for us.”
He added: “The club don’t want to sell Liam (Moore).
“We don’t want to sell any of the other centre-backs so hopefully that’ll be the case.
“Liam is a really good player. He did really well all last season and did really well in the eight games that I was here and he would be a big part of us moving forward here.”
Clement also confirmed that wingers Yakou Meite and Adrian Popa will be given a chance to impress in the upcoming friendlies following their respective loan spells.
Reading begin pre-season away at National League side Eastleigh on Saturday (12.30pm). New signings Yiadom and Meyler are both likely to be available despite their contracts not officially starting until July 1, but O’Shea is not due into training until Monday.