With an enticing draw for the young Royals in the Premier League International Cup, the new cup campaign is set to be a valuable experience for our players who hope to break into the first team!
Following the Royals' first entry into the competition last season, our youngsters have been given another chance to shine this time around against Europe's elite, starting against Portuguese giants FC Porto behind closed doors at Southampton's Staplewood training ground on Friday evening.
With no alternative date for the Porto fixture to be played and no availability to play the match at Madejski Stadium or Adams Park because of congested fixture lists at both venues, it was agreed for the game to be played at Southampton's Staplewood ground on this occasion.
With a dozen Premier League 2 teams mixed in with a further 12 Under-23 sides from all around Europe, it is set to be another fascinating competition as the Royals go toe-to-toe with the best that the continent has to offer, fought on English soil.
The U23s, under the guidance of new manager Scott Marshall, secured their third consecutive victory in the Premier League 2 on Monday with a successful trip to Wolves, Danny Loader's brace earning a 2-1 win.
Marshall and his side will hope to continue their 100% record under his tutelage with the arrival of the European giants on Friday.
The six group winners will advance automatically to the quarter-finals of the competition, with the two highest-ranked runners-up making up the last eight of the tournament.
It's a glamorous draw for the young Royals, being drawn in a group alongside Arsenal and German titans Bayern Munich, with those matches set to be played in November and December.
The rules follow the structure of the Premier League 2, with Under-23 players set to make up the team with a maximum of three over-age players including a goalkeeper, if the club so chooses.
Here's the Premier League International Cup draw in full:
Group A: Sparta Prague (CZE), Liverpool (ENG), Newcastle United (ENG), PSV Eindhoven (NED)
Group B: Hertha Berlin (GER), Legia Warsaw (POL), Leicester City (ENG), Sunderland (ENG)
Group C: Derby County (ENG), Dinamo Zagreb (CRO), Everton (ENG), VfL Wolfsburg (GER)
Group D: Athletic Bilbao (SPA), Celtic FC (SCO), Manchester United (ENG), Swansea City (ENG)
Group E: Arsenal (ENG), Bayern Munich (GER), FC Porto (POR), Reading (ENG)
Group F: SL Benfica (POR), Tottenham Hotspur (ENG), Villarreal CF (SPA), West Ham United (ENG)