Chelsea defender Michael Hector has admitted that he is uncertain as to exactly where he will be playing next season. The Jamaican international was signed by Jose Mourinho from Reading in a £4m ($5.6m) deal on transfer deadline day back in September 2015 but is yet to feature for his parent club, having been sent back to Berkshire for the remainder of the current campaign.
Hector, who rose through the ranks at the Madejski Stadium following 11 loan spells with the likes of Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and Aberdeen, subsequently fell behind Paul McShane, Jake Cooper and Anton Ferdinand in the defensive pecking order amid a dreadful run of form that saw Steve Clarke sacked and replaced by former Championship-winning manager Brian McDermott in December.
Despite their league struggles, however, the Royals have developed a formidable FA Cup pedigree and beat Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion 3-1 on 20 February to book their fourth quarter-final berth in seven years. With Danny Williams still sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Hector resumed the same defensive midfield role as he had performed during the goalless draw with Burnley seven days prior and earned widespread plaudits in a dominant performance that included nodding home Reading's second goal with less than 20 minutes remaining.
Such a commanding display certainly seemed to alert those with Chelsea connections to his obvious potential, yet the 23-year-old, who clearly expects to revert back to his favoured position at centre-back, admits that he is unsure where he will be plying his trade in 2016/17.
"I have not been able to train with Chelsea or John Terry yet, it is a shame he might be leaving but you never know what the future holds," he was quoted as saying by The Mirror. "I don't know what he is going to be doing next season or where I will be playing either. Right now it is about getting games under my belt and playing.
"The higher you go, the better you need to be on the ball as a defender, as well as defend. It helps me playing in midfield and gets me better with the ball. When I move back to centre-back hopefully I will be more comfortable on the ball and do well.
"I have played in many positions – right-back , centre-back , centre-mid, right-wing. That is just going to help me adapt if I play different positions and learn the game. Signing for Chelsea and coming back on loan to Reading, I still feel I am a Reading player. The club means a lot to me and the players like a cup run."
Reading, who reached the last four of the FA Cup last term only to lose 2-1 in extra-time courtesy of a howler from goalkeeper Adam Federici, currently have a number of options in central midfield and added to their ranks with the addition of former Walsall loanee George Evans on a free transfer from Manchester City in January. The absences of Williams and impressive academy graduate Aaron Tshibola led to this latest chance for Hector and McDermott subsequently revealed that he received Chelsea's blessing for that successful positional switch.
He told Sky Sports: "I spoke to Michael about playing that role and said 'if you can develop another string to your bow, that holding midfielder, how many teams in the world play using that position?' He can play for Chelsea in that role. I've spoken to Chelsea about Michael playing that role and they're happy."