Royals Academy product Danny Loader made his debut in the Sky Bet Championship away at Wigan Athletic on Saturday – his inclusion midway through the second period was the result of putting in stellar displays at Under-23 level and impressing on the training pitches at Hogwood Park.
“Danny has also had to be patient, and he really got his head down in the Under-23s,” manager Paul Clement said.
“He was scoring goals and developing and now he has been training with us regularly. He deserved to get his chance, based on what he’s done with the U23s and in training.
“When he went on, he absolutely understood what he needed to do – he looked comfortable, didn’t he! He showed his quality and he’s an exciting prospect for the future for this football club.
“If he’s good enough and doing it when he gets the chances, then he’s more likely to start games rather than come off the bench.
“Watch this space now. We’re going to try to give him all the help that we can to try and develop him and then it will be down to him to take the opportunity.
“You’re always looking to improve the quality of the squad – whether that’s from the outside, or ideally from within your club through the Academy. So that’s fantastic.”
Loader was not the only youngster who was involved in the travelling party.
As well as Liam Kelly and Andy Rinomhota – who started in midfield – there was a first away trip at senior level for 17-year-old Conor Lawless. While he was not named in the playing squad, it was a chance to give him some exposure to what a first-team trip entails.
“He’s a good player – I’ve seen him in games and he’s trained with us,” said Clement on Lawless.
“We’ve got a lot of good prospects. I could have brought an older Academy player, but it was important for some of them to be involved with the Under-23s against Fulham.
“So I thought let’s bring Conor, so it’s not a shock to him when he does finally step up.
“He can smell the dressing room a little bit and get involved. And he’s been good to have around.”