By Chris Slavin
Neal Ardley today completed his fourth addition of the summer with full-back Tennai Watson arriving on loan from Reading.
The 21-year-old joins on a season-long loan deal and Neal said that he will be vying with Toby Sibbick for the right-back berth at AFC Wimbledon.
Tennai is highly-rated at Reading as he earlier this year signed a long-term deal that ties him to the Royals until the summer of 2021 and our manager is delighted to bring in a player who has already played Championship football.
"Tennai is very athletic, very quick, and a good one versus one defender," Neal told our iFollow channel. "He loves to get forward and make things happen and he fits the criteria of everything that we want. He is a great lad with a fantastic attitude, that has come from everybody we've spoken to. Tennai is a good size and he is a powerful athlete. We have to get him up to speed because he had a tough time last season, but he is fit and well, he played 45 minutes the other day for Reading Under-23s against Bath.
"We are quite excited now that we have Tennai and Toby for the right-back position. We feel that we've got two young, athletic, right-backs now. They will be vying for a position in the team that we are trying to put together. Tennai had an injury last season and he suffered a burst appendix as well, but he got himself back fit at the end of the season. He needs to get games under his belt and we are delighted that he is going to do it with us.
"One or two signings we make will probably still end up being the age of James Hanson at 30 and we may have the odd 28 or 29-year-old signing, just to balance it off. With people like Mitch Pinnock at 23, a young right-back, and maybe a centre-back as well, we are looking at bringing in that youth and athleticism to create a team that has a bit more balance. Hopefully, we can reduce the average age throughout the squad. It will all hopefully fit the profile of how we want to tackle the season."
Tennai, who was raised in West London, made notable progress through Reading FC's academy as he starred in his club's run to the FA Youth Cup semi-final in 2014, knocking out Liverpool on the way. On the opening day of 2016/17, Tennai was handed his first-team debut by Jaap Stam at home to Preston North End. Tennai, who did not feature for Reading in Saturday's pre-season friendly, did play here two years ago for the Royals in a 2-0 defeat at the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
A full interview with Tennai is available to watch on our iFollow channel by clicking on the link above.