Reading boss Jose Gomes has ruled out the potential of Joao Virginia returning to Everton this summer following speculation the Toffees could recall the young shot-stopper, via quotes by Berkshire Live.
Virginia joined the Madejski Stadium natives on loan for the 2019/20 season in search of his first minutes in senior football (TransferMarkt), but lost his place between the sticks after an error-strewn first two games in the Championship.
The 19-year-old has since been forced to accept the back-up role to fellow summer arrival Rafael in the league, and was overlooked for the Royals’ Carabao Cup win over Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday night, as Gomes elected to favour his third-choice Sam Walker.
Virginia only making the bench at Home Park is alleged to have sparked speculation Everton could recall the teenager in order to facilitate a loan move elsewhere before the major European markets close, but Gomes has refuted the idea, stating that he still intends to call upon the Toffees prospect if needed.
“Virginia has been working very, very well and he has been improving day by day,” the Reading boss said. “If we need him, we can count with him.
“I picked Sam [in the Cup] because he hasn’t played in the league and didn’t play in the first round at Wycombe. And with so many changes, I decided to give him a chance to play.”
Gomes added: “He [Virginia] is our player so I don’t think this [alleged recall] can happen. I think we are stronger with him than if we let him go.”
Reading are expected to continue on with Rafael between the sticks when they host Charlton Athletic at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday, leaving Virginia facing his fifth consecutive game on the bench across all competitions.
The situation is far from ideal from an Everton point of view, as they would have hoped his loan move to Reading – who shipped 66 goals in 46 Championship games last season – would have returned more minutes than it currently has, as they search for early signs of the true potential the former Arsenal youth star possesses.
Failing to destabilise Rafael in Reading’s net will also leave Virginia facing the first true hurdle of his senior career, as he can only make the natural adjustments needed to eliminate his initial errors with more action and experience up against proven forwards over those faced in the Under 23s.
For Reading, though, Gomes has to choose who he feels will offer his side the best option to keep the opponent at bay, as the Royals only secured survival in the second-tier with three games to play last season, and are currently as close to the last place on points as they are the top spot.
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