McCleary will only benefit from game timeGarath McCleary is desperate to rediscover his match sharpness sooner rather than later, after making his first-team return against Cardiff City last Friday.
The winger, who had been sidelined with a fractured vertebrae since the end of last season, played 45 minutes as 10-man Reading came close to earning an unlikely point in the Welsh capital.
Prior to that, he had featured in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Oxford and another amongst the Royals’ squad. But having now made his first-team return, the 27-year-old is eager to start producing the kind of performances that he was displaying before sustaining his injury.
“It will come with more games because there is nothing that matches game experience,” McCleary said. “This is like coming towards the end of my pre-season. There is still improvement to be done but with every training session I do I’m getting fitter.
“I’ve taken part in three games now; I haven’t had a 90 yet. My sharpness will come with game time and I’m working hard in training and doing extra work as well. I hope it comes sooner rather than later!
“I put a lot of pressure on myself and I have high expectations of my own performances. I just want to take each game as it comes and hopefully I can start to build up my fitness now.
“The fans have been brilliant with me. I’ve had messages throughout my injury, and recovery, so I want to thank them and hopefully I can repay them with some good performances.”
The recently-recovered winger says that he is prepared to face Norwich tomorrow – whether that be from the start or off the bench again.
He said: “I’ll always be ready. I trust the gaffer and the staff. I know my own body too and if I wasn’t ready then I would say, especially after what I’ve been through with the fractured vertebrae. I’ve been fine, the back has been fine and body has been fine, so I’ll be there when I’m called upon.
“Norwich will be tough because they’re a good team but there are many good teams in the Championship. We’ve got to take it one game at a time and hopefully get a win. I scored there in my last game. If I can get a goal or assist, I’ll be very pleased.”
Reading have been on a poor run of late and have slipped into the bottom half of the second tier.
McCleary says that he, the squad and the management staff are working hard to turn things around – and he is confident that they will.
“I don’t think anyone would have thought that we’d be down there before the start of the season,” said McCleary said. “We would have said that we wanted promotion.
“I know personally that I still want that now and I know that many of the boys do too. Our objectives haven’t changed. We’re going to take it one game at a time and hopefully pick up a win on Saturday.
“Anything can happen in this league. We saw it with Reading the season before I joined and many times before that where teams have pushed through late. It could happen even this year and we need to make sure that it’s us.
“As a team, we need to stand up and take responsibility at the moment - we will all say that, too. We need to take responsibility for some the poor results that we have had this season.”