Young Royals full-back buoyed after heavy involvemnet in pre-season preparations.Reading full-back Tennai Watson has thoroughly enjoyed the Royals’ pre-season, with the youngster heavily involved in Jaap Stam’s plans in the build up to the start of the Championship campaign.
Watson, who has featured in every pre-season game for the Reading across the summer, feels he is growing as a player, both in confidence and on the pitch.
“It’s been really exciting to be involved throughout the whole of pre-season and it’s been a great experience,” commented the right-back. “It’s something I can take a lot from and take into the season.”
“It’s given me confidence, but I know I still have to work hard and we’ll see where it takes me. I can take a lot of positives from the last month or so, both myself and Liam Kelly as well as other U21 boys have been heavily involved with the team during pre-season, training and playing regularly.”
The 19-year-old was keen to impress new manager Jaap Stam when he took charge, and has been very grateful to the former Manchester United centre-back for giving him a chance to show what he can do.
Stam has shown a willingness to involve a number of Reading youngsters in his pre-season plans. Watson believes the manager’s playing philosophy has made the transition to first team football easier for Reading’s academy graduates.
“There has been a change of management and you always want to impress the new manager and staff,” said the academy graduate. “They’ve been great through the pre-season, really helpful and I’m grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do.”
“I think Jaap is really good with involving the youth and bridging the gap between the first team and the U21s. He is giving the younger boys a chance so for people like myself and Liam it has worked out really well.
“The philosophy throughout the whole academy is about building from the back and playing the opposition with the ball on the floor,” Watson continued. “There is obviously a jump in physicality and tempo between the U21s and the first team but I think Jaap’s philosophy has helped us progress through to the first team because it is a style of football we recognise.”
This weekend’s opening fixture of the Championship season will see the Royals host Preston North end at Madejski Stadium, in a game dedicated to the late Academy Manager Eamonn Dolan.
Watson paid tribute to Dolan’s work with both him as a player and with the Royals. There is a chance the young defender may make his competitive debut for the club this weekend, and if so, Watson believes Saturday’s game would be a fitting one.
“Eamonn’s contribution to the academy is something I don’t think many people could live up to,” reflected the youngster. “It’s all the boys’ opinion, not just mine, that he’s helped everyone here in terms of the style of football and how we play.
“It would be fitting for me to get my debut at the weekend but you can never predict what is going to happen so I’ll continue to work hard and then we’ll see what the gaffer decides on Saturday.
“All the training has been building up to the weekend, it’s looking positive around the camp, things are going well because we’ve had a good pre-season. Hopefully we can start well, get the three points and we’ll see if I have a role to play if any and take it from there.”