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"I've got that burning desire to prove myself!" - Baldock

Striker raring to go as a Royal

31 July 2018

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Sam Baldock is eager to get going and make an impact as a Royal, after joining on a three-year deal from Brighton & Hove Albion on Monday.

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Having already been through his pre-season programme with the Seagulls, Baldock has swapped blue and white stripes for blue and white hoops - and he says he is fighting fit and ready to face Derby County on Friday night, if called upon.

“The good thing is there’s only a few days until the start of the season so I can get cracking straight away," Baldock told iFollow.

“I found out Reading were interested at the beginning of the summer. I had a couple of clubs enquire and as soon as I heard of Reading’s interest, it pricked my ears up and I was interested!

“Obviously the boys have done a lot of hard work over pre-season, they know the way the manager wants to play. I’ve got to go in and pick that up straight away and hope to be involved on Friday."

Baldock, 29, revealed the influence of Paul Clement in bringing him to the club - with the striker saying the manager's words reflected his ambitions in football.

“I spoke to the manager in the off-season and he was keen to have me on board," Baldock continued. "Everything he said mirrored my desires as well, he was looking for the club to get back on track and push towards the top half of the table.

“It’s the Championship, you never know what could happen and I’ve got that burning desire to get back and prove myself to be at the very top.

“The manager was saying he wants the boys to play with a bit more intensity, he said he came in last year and things had maybe got a little bit stale.

“He wants to transform the team. Last year was maybe about survival and this year is about putting his stamp on it, adding a lot of energy up the top end of the pitch and being a solid base – building from that.

“It resonates with my feelings as a footballer in how the game should be played."

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Having already gone through his pre-season preparations with the Seagulls, Baldock is ready to go as soon as possible when the Royals get their season started.

With Baldock having played a key part in Brighton's promotion to the Premier League, he knows what it takes to climb out of the second tier as a player. 

On his fitness and preparations for the season, Baldock added: “I feel good, I had a tough week in Austria a few weeks back (with Brighton) and I’ve been training since. I’m looking forward to putting on the shirt and getting some game time.

“You hear a lot of the time that this is the hardest division in the world, in terms of getting promoted and getting out of it.

“I think every club will go into the season with aspirations of giving themselves a chance at the top. A lot of teams have proven in previous years that anyone can do it – there are a few surprises along the way.

“It’s a relentless league. You have to be at the peak of your powers every game and momentum can start rolling – in either direction. We’re hoping it’s for a positive reason."

In a recurring theme of Clement's Reading signings, Baldock has captaincy experience from his time at Bristol City - in a season where he scored 24 times to win League One's Golden Boot award in 2013-14.

“I’m not a shy character," he reasoned. "I get the lads together and I’m a positive thinking kind of guy, so it’s going to be key for me to have good relationships with my team-mates.

“I find that if you get on off the pitch, you get on when you’re on the pitch and things tend to go a bit smoother.

“When you look round the squad, it’s full of quality and it’s no coincidence that they were play-off finalists a couple of years back.

“The recruits since then have definitely added quality to the squad and I’m hoping I can do that as well and we can achieve good things together.”   

Baldock will be hoping to make his competitive Reading debut at home to the Rams on Friday night, with kick-off at 8pm at Madejski Stadium!

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