New deal delights improving Liam who is enjoying life under StamBefore the disruption of a rare but frustrating abandoned game at Madejski Stadium on Friday night, Royals fans' hearts were warmed with some excellent news to end the calendar year with.
21-year-old Liam Kelly was in the manager's office at Hogwood Park just four hours before kick-off against the Cottagers, putting pen to paper on a brand new contract alongside his family and the Chief Executive - and in front of Jaap Stam and his coaching staff, a team who have shown so much faith in him since their arrival in the summer.
"It's been really nice this season, coming into the first team squad from the start when the new gaffer and his team all came to the club - it was a fresh start not only for me but for everyone at the club," Liam told readingfc.co.uk moments after the ink had dried on a fully deserved new deal.
"When I heard that they were coming to Reading, I knew the Dutch style of play was how I like to play - it's a style I've come up through the Academy playing all my career so I know it would suit me down to the ground.
"But I also knew that it would be down to me performing to the best of my ability, week in, week out if I was going to get a chance. I had to come in and put my marker down and hopefully that was going to be good enough for the gaffer. And obviously it has been so far."
Kelly, much like his teammates at the Madejski, are enjoying an education under the new boss and the pass master midfielder - who was scoring goals on loan at Bath City only seven or eight months ago - is pleased that his game is improving at the club. "The young players through to the older players at the club, everyone is learning every day in training, and what the manager has brought to the club everyone has benefited from," he continued.
"It's been a bit surreal for me this year, the journey I've been on looking back at it - to come from playing in the National League South to playing in the Championship...
"And it's been a sad year for me and the whole club, with the passing of Eamonn of course. So in a way it's nice to be able to end the year on this note."
Kelly has impressed in the first team in recent weeks, claiming an assist in his first Madejski Stadium start in a Boxing Day win over Norwich City and almost scoring a goal at Blackburn - only for Liam Moore to be credited with the rebounded effort following his crossbar-bound drive from distance.
"It was going to be one of our goals, Liam or me," Kelly smiled. "But Liam has to take that one. And hopefully, with the more games I play, the more opportunities I'll get and hopefuklly one of them will go in!"