Club nearing first-team returnFollowing 16 months out with a knee injury, Jem Karacan described yesterday’s return to competitive action as an “unbelievable feeling”.
The club captain played 45 minutes for the development squad as they were beaten by West Bromwich Albion in the U21s Premier League.
And, having come through unscathed, the 25-year-old is targeting a first-team comeback at the Madejski Stadium in the coming weeks.
He said: “It’s amazing to be back involved with the boys – I have missed it every day for the last 16 months. You miss everything; the banter with the lads, the away trips, getting ready for games and the adrenaline rush you get.
“My heart was pounding on the bench against Huddersfield on Saturday. I felt like a little kid again, so its brilliant to be back involved and training every day. I’m feeling stronger as each day comes and hopefully I can be involved against Middlesbrough on Saturday.
“I want to be back in the frame now. Obviously I was on the bench for the cup game and a league game is no different. Saturday against Middlesbrough is a new game and they’re all different.
“I’ll look to be making my comeback on Saturday and there will be no better feeling than running out at the Madejski Stadium in front of the fans. I’ve missed that place a lot.”
Karacan’s 45-minute cameo was watched by manager Steve Clarke and assistant Kevin Keen, and the midfielder has been impressed with impact made by the new staff.
“The gaffer has put his fresh ideas onto the pitch,” said Karacan. “At most clubs, people have something to prove when a new manager comes in. People have to show that they want the shirt and you normally always get a reaction.
“It’s been a good reaction, we’re unbeaten in three and we all want to keep that going. The gaffer doesn’t want to lose any more games and neither to the boys.
“We have to take each game as it comes, make sure everyone is fighting for their shirt, keep recording positive results and start to make more of an impact on the league.”