Defender reaping the rewards of temporary stintsMichael Hector believes that his first full season as a Reading regular saw him reap the benefits of heading out on loan in previous campaigns.
The centre-back, who is recent years has enjoyed temporary spells at Dundalk, Barnet, Shrewsbury, Aldershot, Cheltenham and Aberdeen, turned out 49 times for the Royals this season.
He was shortlisted for the fans’ Player of the Year award in April and the 22-year-old says that using a loan move to swap youth football for the men’s game was a great way for him to learn.
He said: “The step up is to play men’s football and you learn the hard way when you’re out on loan. You don’t get as much time on the ball as you would in the U21s and the crowd can make things a bit intimidating at first.
“You are only going to learn the level and become a man if you do go on loan and play men’s football, where the games really mean something.
“Playing against men, they can be just as fast as you, stronger than you, and it’s about more than just your ability. It’s your mentality; to still get on the ball when you are getting kicked and stuff like that.
“When things aren’t going well you’ve still got to trust in your own ability and be confident in yourself and a few of the players in our U21s have done that and really enjoyed it.
“When I came back from Aberdeen, I felt like a few teams in the SPL could play in the Championship and I felt that I could adapt having played against the likes of Celtic.
“I knew I could do it in the Championship but to do it regularly is a tough ask. I didn’t understand what Saturday-Tuesday takes out of you; it’s a battle every week and it’s been tough.
“I was happy to play week in, week out this season. For me, it’s a big step up from my loans to playing in the Championship. I have sat in the stands and watched for a few years here and I always felt that I could play in it and I’ve been given my chance.
“This season, I feel like I’ve done very well in certain games and in other games I made some mistakes, which I feel I have learned from now. Hopefully next season it will be an even better year for me.”