That list of Academy graduates to play for the Royals’ senior team just keeps growing. Tom McIntyre became number 48 when he was named in the starting XI in Rotherham this weekend.
Senior centre-halves Liam Moore, Paul McShane, Tiago Ilori and John O’Shea were all missing with injury – but on a bitterly cold and rainy afternoon in South Yorkshire, McIntyre’s display showed ability and matureness beyond his years on his debut.
Caretaker manager Scott Marshall, who knows McIntyre well from his time in the Under-23s, was confident that the 20-year-old defender would be able to rise to the challenge.
“I’ve been working with him in the Under-23s all year, and I was confident that he had the temperament and character to deal with being thrown into the team,” Marshall said. “And I thought he coped with it really well.
“They put us under a lot of pressure and you need a fair bit of resilience – it was good to see a young lad playing at centre-back and getting thrown into all that.
“We know a bit more about him now that he has had a first-team game. That’s how opportunities come along sometimes.
“He got a nice early clump in the top of his head – welcome to the Championship!
“I know Tom well. He’s a good, strong character. I knew that he would enjoy the situation – he’s certainly one who will roll his sleeves up and won’t shy away. He did really well.”