Our Under-23s’ success so far in the Premier League International Cup – reaching the Semi-Final by winning away at Manchester United – will have turned a few heads. But anyone who knows Reading also knows just how prolific our Academy is.
The successes continue. Speaking on BBC Radio Berkshire the day after the game, our Academy Manager Ged Roddy was full of praise for the way that the players stepped up again – many of them are on an ideal trajectory to have a successful career in the game.
“These types of games give them a different type of perspective on their development,” Ged said.
“Going up to Manchester United was a big challenge for the lads, so to come away 3-1 winners was testament to how well they are doing this season.
“It is a long road for these young lads, and obviously it is tough to make a career in the game. But we are really blessed as a club right now; we’ve got a great group of young players in the Under-23s and indeed down through the Academy.
“They still have work to do, but they are going in the right direction. Beating Manchester United, and results like that, go some way to underlining that potential.
“Most of the boys in that group are 18 or 19 – Danny Loader, who has played in the first team and scored a hat-trick, is only 18 years old.
“You’ve got to give these lads a little bit of time and be patient. But for the Reading fans out there, they’ll know these names already. The future really is very exciting.
“Our goalkeeper, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, was only 15 years of age and didn’t look fazed by the competition and looks really bright for the future of the club.”
“We have also secured the services for a number of players in the coming years, too. Andy Rinomhota penned an extension recently, as well as four more talented youngers."
Roddy paid tribute to the hard work of the Academy staff and the players themselves.
“Anybody who talks about Reading Football Club and the Academy, it is synonymous with Eamonn Dolan, the first Academy Manager,” Ged continued. “He’s sadly no longer with us but he did such a great job here.
“I’ve been lucky enough to inherit a huge amount of talent stacked inside the Academy here and some great coaches. Over the past decade some brilliant work has been done, and the club is going to bear the fruits of that work.
“The announcement too about our young boys signing their contracts – the future looks very encouraging for the club, and these boys are going to be a big part of that future.
“Tom Holmes made his debut last season as a 17-year-old, Tom McIntyre made his debut a few months ago against Rotherham – he has had some injury setbacks since but he could be back in the first team frame in the next few weeks.
“You’ll hear a lot about these boys in the next few years, I’m sure. Fingers crossed for a bright future for them, and for the club as well.”