Royals youngster on first team debutAfter making his professional debut in a 2-1 win over Brighton in midweek, youngster Niall Keown revealed he kept a level head as Steve Clarke introduced him into the fray in the dying stages.
In his limited time on the pitch the 19-year-old defender still showed the steely determination he has become known for in the youth ranks at the club, but when asked if he felt the nerves upon his introduction – gave an emphatic answer.
“No,” he told reporters after the game. “I was just excited and looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting a long time for that so you have to enjoy the opportunity when it comes. You have to love it and keep calm.”
Keown, who has received his first call up to the Ireland U21s squad, became the 9th Academy player to make his first team debut this season.
“It’s been encouraging times that there’s a club here that pushes the club and Academy players and wants to get them in the first team anyway you can. I found out I was in the squad on Monday, they let us know the team just before the game. In the last few minutes the gaffer said I want you to come on and sit in front of the back four, I was happy to go on and luckily we saw out the win.”
Finally, the somewhat inevitable question arose as to whether or not Niall sought advice from his father, Arsenal legend Martin, prior to the game.
“He wasn’t at home he was at the Manchester United game so I had a bit of peace and quiet! He just let me crack on with it!”
Could you name the 35 graduates who have played first team football for the Royals since the Academy's inception in 1999? See the answers here!