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Tanner: U21s have evolved in second half of season

19 May 2015

Forward pleased to pull on the Royals shirt again

Craig Tanner says that when he lined up for Reading’s U21s in their final two matches of the season, he was playing in a more mature, street-wise side than the one he left in January.

Tanner got 90 minutes for the already-promoted Royals against Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion last week, following the end of his loan spell with League Two AFC Wimbledon.

Before joining the Dons in January, the 20-year-old striker featured in a 5-0 loss at West Brom and he says that, in hindsight, the defeat had a positive influence on the U21s’ season.

“That defeat was an eye opener,” he said. “But in a way we need to thank them for it because that kick-started all of the lads and we went on a great run and got promoted.

“It’s weird how things like that can affect you later down the line, although you may not see it at the time. Before then, I had only had one or two heavy defeats at Reading looking all the way back to when I was a scholar.

“It maybe woke everyone up because we aren’t used to losing games and after that we changed our tactics slightly. It woke people up, we realised we had to cut out any sloppiness and afterwards we said that it wouldn’t be happening again.

“Everyone has a winning mentality in the U21s and after that defeat we had a group chat, said that it wasn’t us and was unacceptable. From then on, we just kept going and going.”

The 20-year-old says that the U21s’ adjusted style has made a big impact and that he was pleased to be back amongst the squad.  

He said: “It was nice to pull the Reading shirt back on again because it means a lot to me. Hopefully next year I can impressive the manager and get a chance in front of a full Madejski Stadium.  

“We still play very good passing football because we have still got a lot of ball players in the team, but we know the game a bit better now.

“We make fewer mistakes at the back because we take less risks and we can mix it up more now. If we need to go long, where before we may have overplayed and lost the ball, we do.

“We hit an area if we have to and we are playing more like a first team now. That compactness has shown with the clean sheets and results that the team have recorded.”

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