It won’t be long until competitive football begins again; after a few departures this summer, defender Michael Morrison is certainly one of the most experienced heads in the dressing room.
And that’s a role that he’ll thrive in – helping to provide a guiding light for those younger players throughout the week, alongside doing his very best in the hooped shirt when games get underway.
“A lot of teams will be looking to put their youth through – I don’t think there’ll be too many high-value acquisitions from any club in the Championship,” said Morrison, talking to BBC Radio Berkshire. “So youth will play a big part in it – we’ve seen some good players come through.
“I’m sure we’ll be looking for players like Michael Olise to really have a breakthrough year at the club and put a marker down on the team and the league. That might be putting a high expectation on him, but I think he’s got the ability.
“And then there’s players like Tom McIntyre who has come through who will be looking for game-time, and Tom Holmes has come back in and he’ll have a chance to be near the first team. There are players coming through and they’ll be dipped in and out and have an effect on the team.
“So for me, it’s about setting an example every day and working hard. Sometimes I see clubs recruit young players, but they don’t have the experienced players around them to show the protocol about what you should be doing every day.
“First and foremost I’ll look at myself – train hard, and set standards. And then I’ll look at how you can help these players – whether that’s a word in their ear or putting demands on them to do certain things, that’s what I’ll do.”
The players returned to Bearwood at the back-end of last week – which will become their full-time home this summer.
And once the site is up and running, and fully functional, it’s set to provide the perfect environment for game prep for all members of the Royals squad.
“It was a short break!” he continued. “A lot shorter than you’re usually used to. I went to Spain on the Saturday that they changed the quarantine rules, so my break was even shorter than normal.
“Now we’re back in at Bearwood – the site isn’t completely finished, there’s still a few bits to do, and obviously with all the Covid stuff there is still regulations in place so we’re outside as much as possible. But we’ve tried to hit the ground running.
“This training ground will be right up there; you see some of the Premier League structures, and this will be right up there to compete with it. I haven’t been as lucky as to train somewhere as new and with such good facilities as what we’ll have at Bearwood. So there’ll be no excuses day to day.”
And on reflection, Morrison had reasons to be happy with his maiden campaign for the Royals.
48 appearances in all competitions and the only common denominator in all of our clean sheets in 2019-20… an impressive start to life as a Royal.
“I really enjoyed it. The results were mixed, but I got a lot of game-time even with a lot of competition for places. On a personal level that was a success – game time and playing. Especially after the break – it didn’t look that way when I was dropped for Derby, and I thought I might be sitting on my bum a bit. So it was good to get another opportunity and do as well as I did.
“We conceded goals towards the end, although it’s a difficult time when you’re playing for nothing and teams are chasing something – Swansea had about eight up front by the end of the game!
“Over the course of the season, I was pleased – especially certain patches where we did really well like over Christmas when we kept a lot of clean sheets, and that first week when we beat Cardiff, got a point at West Brom, and beat Huddersfield – and I scored!
“We kept quite a few clean sheets – defensively we did quite well as a team. There’s an argument to say that we could be a bit more creative, but once you set the marker of being hard to beat, you can improve from there. It gives you a good base.”