mkdons.com takes an in focus look at striker Simon Church, who signed a two-year deal with the Club on Tuesday.
The striker, who had featured regularly for the Royals’ reserve side, signed his first professional contract with the Madjeski Stadium outfit in July 2007 but spent the following campaign out on loan at League 1 side’s Crewe Alexandra and Yeovil Town.
During the 2007/08 season, Church made a total of 20 appearances and scored his first senior goal in only his second professional appearance – Crewe’s 2-2 draw away at Cheltenham Town.
In August 2008, the then 19-year-old re-joined hometown club Wycombe Wanderers on loan and he spent the next four months at Adams Park before returning to Reading to make his Royals debut in an FA Cup tie against Cardiff City.
Church moved to Leyton Orient on loan in February 2009 and after a promising start he ended his spell in East London by scoring four goals in nine games.
That form earned him another appearance for Reading, this time a start in the Championship play-off semi final against Burnley.
It was at the end of the 2008/09 campaign that Church was also handed his first international appearances for Wales’ senior side, having previously captained the Under-21s. He made his debut in a friendly against Estonia before featuring from the start a World Cup qualifier against Azerbaijan.
With over 50 senior appearances now to his name, Church was given his first real chance to break into Reading’s first-team in 2009/10 and it was an opportunity he took, finishing the campaign having scored 12 goals in 42 games – one of the goals coming in an FA Cup draw with Premier League Liverpool.
During the same season, Church also featured a further five times for Wales and in a 3-0 victory over Scotland in November 2009 he netted his first goal on the international stage.
Church remained a key member of Reading’s first-team during the 2010/11 season, helping the Royals reach the Championship play-off final by scoring a number of important goals during the year, including two late winners against Ipswich Town and Doncaster Rovers respectively.
Although adding a further seven goals to his tally during the 2011/12 campaign, Church only featured once for Reading the following campaign, spending the majority of the year on loan at Huddersfield Town. He also continued to represent Wales, making seven international appearances to take his total to 20.
Leaving Reading in May 2013, Church signed for fellow Championship outfit Charlton Athletic and in his first season at the Valley he made 44 appearances, contributing seven goals. He also netted another for Wales – a winner in their World Cup qualifier against Macedonia.
A shoulder injury sustained early on in the 2014/15 campaign saw Church limited to only 19 appearances for the Addicks. Before the injury, he did manage to feature three more times for Wales.