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"It's great to be back!"

Garath McCleary on his return from injury in Millwall victory

21 October 2018

After eight months out through injury, a few eyebrows were raised as Garath McCleary made his comeback from the start against Millwall on Saturday!

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But the club's longest-serving player slotted straight back into the team and looked in fine form as the Royals ran out 3-1 winners against the Lions at Madejski Stadium.

His last appearance for the Royals came all the way back in February, and his long road back to fitness was topped off with three points at the weekend.

"It's been a long time, hasn't it!" McCleary said with a smile after the match. "It's great to be back for me, it's been eight months and I've been literally ticking off the days on the calendar. It's superb to be back.

"It came as a bit of a surprise to start, to be honest. I've been fit now for a couple of weeks, so I've just been champing at the bit and waiting to get my chance, and I'm happy to have got it today."

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With the road to recovery being a longer one than he would have liked, McCleary says he had to dig deep within himself to pull through and come out the other side.

"Mentally, it's probably been the hardest out of all the injuries I've had," he elabroated. "I was expecting to be back for pre-season, then I had a setback.

"I needed an operation, so that was really hard to take, but I'm over it now and glad to be out of it.

"I've had great people around me, who have always had my back - to talk to, always knowing that I'd be back and I could help the team when I did.

"The fans have always supported me, I had loads of great messages throughout my injury and I'm thankful to them as well.

"Now hopefully I can kick on, I know there are a lot of places up for grabs and there's a lot of competition - from players who aren't in the squad and players on the bench.

"You've got to give your all in games and in training, then hopefully you're picked."

On the game itself at the weekend, the Royals put in a solid performance and marked McCleary's return with three hard-earned points against Millwall.

Yakou Méïté's brace was supplemented by Sam Baldock's penalty late in the first half to give the Royals a valuable win at Madejski Stadium.

"It was a good performance against a tough team, they put a lot of balls into the box and we coped with it really well.

"They had a lot of entries into our box, but I think we did well. Anssi [Jaakkola] did really well, considering that he came in on Saturday as well, so there are a lot of positives to take from the game!"


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