Harry's high hopes for next season
Academy striker Harry Cardwell was in action alongside fellow Royals Dom Hyam and George McLennan for Scotland's under-19s last night, coming off the bench to play a part in a narrow defeat to England in a Euro 14 Elite Round qualifier at the Pirelli Stadium.
Ricky Sbragia's side led through John Souttar but two late goals from Lewis Baker denied the Scots a victory. International action is just capping a wonderful season for Cardwell, who starred up front for both our under-18s and under-21s last season.
"It has been a really successful season for the whole Academy," he told Reading FC Player last week. "The 21s winning the cup of course, and we had a really successful season in the FA Youth Cup as well as finishing third in the league with the 18s.
"It was a great experience to play at Anfield with the 21s...and to get a goal there was even better. And then to score two against Liverpool here at Madejski Stadium in the quarter-finals of the Youth Cup, it was fantastic.
"At the start of the season, I thought if I played well for the 18s I might get a chance in the 21s, especially as there were a few injuries to the strikers - and I managed to take my chance!"
But Cardwell's greatest successes came as a key part of an historic FA Youth Cup campaign, the first goal of which was scored by the Scottish international at Elland Road.
"The Leeds game set the tone for the whole campaign, we dominated the game in terms of possession and scored three very good goals. We used Sammi's long throw in and we battered them in the second half.
"Then we showed our resilience to battle through extra time and come through on penalties against Crewe, and against Accrington we dominated for the full 90 minutes. We passed them to death and took our chances well.
"The Liverpool game, we showed our real character, coming through on penalties again. And I think we were unlucky against Fulham in the semi-final. In the second leg we were unfortunate to go down to ten men, but we worked really hard and gave a good account of ourselves, fought back and gave everything we had."
Now, Cardwell is looking to go even better in 2014-15.
"We're looking forward to next season already, we want to better our Youth Cup record this season and finish even higher in the league.
"There are some really good 16s coming into the group, and we'll try to help them settle in as we'll be the second years in the Academy next season.
"We've had a week's relaxation and then we started doing our own individual off-season programmes, getting ourselves ready for pre-season. I'm looking forward to it."