Cheltenham Town have announced the signing of Luke Southwood after he spent last season on loan with the Robins. The signing was announced on the club website.
Southwood signed a one-year deal with the Gloucestershire club; after spending last season on loan in League One with the outfit. The 25-year-old was released by Reading at the end of his contract last month and reportedly had suitors in the Championship for his services. The goalkeeper made 30 senior appearances during his time with the Royals after coming through their academy and also enjoyed loan spells with Bath City and Hamilton Academical. Last season with Cheltenham Town could be deemed his breakout season with regular first-team football and impressive stats to his name.
Last season Southwood played in every one of the 46 league fixtures, keeping 16 clean sheets in that time, as the Robins finished 16th in League One, nine points ahead of the relegation places. Those 16 clean sheets were a figure that only four other goalkeepers in the league beat, with Max Stryjek of Wycombe Wanderers matching that total.
The goalkeeper becomes the fourth signing made by Wade Elliott this summer, with another goalkeeper among those names in former Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Jamie Pardington. The club have also signed free agent defender Curtis Davies following his release from Derby County and Rob Street from Premier League side Crystal Palace.
Over the weekend, it was reported that the Robins potentially faced difficulties pursuing the Northern Ireland international as Championship clubs joined the list of potential suitors. However, it appears as Cheltenham Town was the more attractive option for the goalkeeper, with it believed that any move to the second tier would result in the Irishman playing more of a backup role. The Robins already proved they could offer regular first-team football during his loan spell.
Southwood is a fantastic talent for League One, and the Robins have pulled off a major coup here by beating Championship clubs to his signature. His stats in the league last season show that he is capable of performing in the third tier. And with Reading relegated to League One themselves, this could be a deal that makes the club regret their mistake as they attempt to escape the third tier.