In the space of five days, Josh Barrett netted twice for the senior team at Madejski Stadium – and both in fine style. His first capped a 4-2 win against Peterborough, and his second opened the scoring against Premier League giants Chelsea.
After seeing his initial effort blocked by Davide Zappacosta, the Ireland Under-21 international reacted quickly to lob Willy Caballero on the rebound. A fantastic moment for the Academy graduate.
“Obviously it’s pre-season, but it means everything,” said Barrett. “I’ve always wanted to score in a first-team game for Reading, that’s what you work towards.
“Thankfully, today I got the goal, and it’s another good thing going into the season now for me. And of course, hopefully I can bring some more throughout the season.
“Danny played a great pass to me – I cut inside and hit it against the defender. The ball came up and hit me on my chest, and it dropped onto my left foot. I saw that the goalkeeper was off his line a little bit so I looped it over him and thankfully it went in.”
That goal, in our last pre-season match, was the highlight of a productive summer for Barrett.
After breaking back into José Gomes’ first-team squad at the end of last season, he went away with Ireland and reached the semi-final of the Toulon Tournament, before returning to the Royals where he has played a bit part in pre-season preparations.
“I went away from the end of the season with massive hope that when I come back that I’m going to get another opportunity, and thankfully the manager showed his faith in me again this season and I’m grateful for that,” Barrett continued.
“Now it’s my opportunity to pay him back with my performances and do it for the team and of course the club.
“It’s massively exciting for someone like me. It will be the first time going into a season with the first team. I’m so excited and I think everyone is.
“We’ve had a great pre-season together and a long time away, we just need to make sure that the next couple of days we prepare right, and we’ll be ready for sure.”
On the whole, things were positive against Chelsea – three goals against the Europa League holders is no mean feat. But four conceded highlighted some areas which needed tightening too, so no reason for complacency.
He continued: “There’s a few things that we can tighten up on, which is going to be a big thing for the season. We scored three goals against a top side, a world-class team with world-class players.
“I think for everyone it’s a massive confidence boost, and we will go into next week against Sheffield Wednesday and play exactly like that hopefully and that’s all we need to do.
“Liam Moore said when we came in at half-time, if we play like we did in the first half next week, we’ve got a massive chance. It’s big for us all, we are all working hard for each other, everyone wants to do the work, and we’ve got a real tight-knit group now. We’ll be ready next week for sure.”
Tickets are available now for our curtain-raiser against Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday - you can find out more or buy tickets here.