Nigel Gibbs said there were reasons for optimism after the Royals’ opening pre-season friendly against Eastleigh.
The Spitfires ran out 2-1 winners on the day, against two separate teams fielded in the first and second halves respectively from Reading.
All 22 players came through the match unscathed, though, as they step up their training programme in the coming weeks.
On the result, Gibbs said: “Every game we go into, we want to win – whoever the opposition is. We’re disappointed with the result but we look at the bigger picture, everything is geared up towards the opening game against Derby.
“This is the first game, the first step after a week’s training. We’ve seen some positive things in the game but still lots to work on. That’s what pre-season is all about.
“It was a hot day, a sticky pitch, but we’ve still got to do the right things. It’s all in our beliefs and what we want from the players, there were flashes of it in the game but not enough at times.
“When you have two different teams, there was no rhythm until the second half when the boys got used to the pitch.
“We’ll have another good week of training and we’ll look forward to next week’s game.
“A good thing is that we’ve got no injuries, everyone’s got 45 minutes under their belt. We have a rest day tomorrow then we’ll go again on Monday.”
Another bonus was the return of Callum Harriott, who looked lively in his 45 minutes on the pitch – which was his first action in the first team picture for over 18 months – and Gibbs was pleased with what he saw from the fleet-footed winger.
“You could see in the game that he’s full of enthusiasm, put a couple of great crosses in,” Gibbs said. “So for Callum it’s important, he joined in a little bit at the end of the season but he’s really hopeful and we’re confident of getting a good pre-season in, and see where we go from there.
“It’s good to see him back out there, it’s good to see the new players in the team and we go again.”
Several players were involved for the Royals who were out on loan last season, and Gibbs hopes to see plenty of fight for a place in the team when the season starts.
“It’s a clean slate for everyone – you’ve got to go and earn that shirt. That’s the really important thing.
“A couple of players have come back from their previous loans, trying to impress and get into the team.
“That’s got to continue, we’ve got to have competition for places.”