Defender discusses new deal with ReadingAfter Jake Coopersigned a new contract with Reading Football Club, which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2018, he praised the conduit that the club lays out to allow young talented players to achieve their first-team ambitions.
Cooper, who joined the Royals’ Academy at the age of 14, starred in the Under-18 side that made the 2013/14 FA Youth Cup semi-final, as well as winning the inaugural Under-21 Premier League Cup in the same season. And now he has been regularly involved in Steve Clarke's matchday squad this season, alongside fellow Academy alumni Hal Robson-Kanu, Aaron Tshibola, Jordan Obita and Michael Hector.
“It’s nice to sign a new contract, I’m really happy at the club and I get on really well with the manager,” said Cooper. “The aim is always to be involved with the first team, that’s my goal. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the last season or so but I just want to kick on now and really try and cement a place in the team.
“I have had a great time coming through the club and coming through the Academy. Eamonn Dolan and the Academy staff have been brilliant with me in bringing in me through, and it’s all down to them really that I’m able to be where I am today.
“The Academy is brilliant here and they really do give player a chance to progress. The coaches are top quality and they allow players to come and perform at the highest level, so it has been brilliant.
“And I feel I have a good relationship with manager which was a key part of why I’m signing a new contract. I look to learn every day at the training ground and look to improve and players like Paul McShane, Anton Ferdinand and Michael Hector are always there trying to help.”
The stellar form of those three centre-halves has meant starting opportunities have been limited for the 20-year-old so far this term. But he showed just what he is capable of by shackling Romelu Lukaku when Premier League opponents Everton rolled into town last month in the League Cup, which was his first appearance since sustaining an injury over summer.
“There should always be a good competition in the team and it’s good to have that competition for places here,” he continued. “We relish that and I think it’s made our team a lot stronger this season as a result. I just want the chance to show the manager what I can do and get the chance to play in the team.
“I always try and take every game the same even against the top players; I want to take the opportunities and play my normal game. Against Everton I felt we were unfortunate not to get the result on the day, but we showed we have a good squad and a strong team here that can really do things this season.
“I was injured at the beginning of the season, but injuries are part of football and it’s how you deal with them that makes you stronger. For the rest of the season I want to stay involved in the first team and really take every opportunity I can and show the manager that I’m here to stay and be in his team and in his plans for the future.”