Tom McIntyre is one of several Academy graduates who are currently involved in the first-team setup – and who will be looking to make a significant contribution to the 2020-21 season which lies ahead.
No less than 15 boys who came through our youth ranks played first-team football last season in Royals colours; Tom feels that they should all try to thrive in the expectation that comes with senior-team football.
“Pressure is a privilege; you’re in this position and people are banking on you to perform, and that’s an honour in itself,” said Tom, talking on BBC Radio Berkshire.
“Pressure can bring out the best in people. So even if there’s a lot of pressure on us youngsters, there’s also pressure on the senior boys to push the team on too.
“Whatever team you’re playing in and however the club is looking at the time, there’s always going to be pressure from the fans. That’s what it means to play for Reading.
“So the bare minimum is to give 110% and anything else after that is a bonus. That’s what the manager always says to us: at the start of the game you can think you’re going to play well or think you’re going to play not so great, but the bare minimum that you have to give is 110%.
“Sometimes people can be off it a bit technically, in games and in training – but you have to give it everything. If all us youngsters do that this season, we’ll do alright.”
The fixture list was revealed at 9am sharp on Friday morning – pairing the Royals against Derby County for our first game, away at Pride Park.
That’s where a 46-game campaign begins – and McIntyre wants to start well and see where that can take us.
“I’m really looking forward to the start of the season – and it’s a tough one to start,” he continued. “It’s always good if you can get a good team like Derby out the way early!
“It’s a bit of a cliché, but every game in the Championship is going to be tough… and we’re going to play every at some stage – so I don’t read too much into it!
“But it is exciting to see the fixture list – where we are on Boxing Day, the one after new year… it’s always interesting. And the close away games – I always like to see when they are, like Wycombe or Luton. It’s a shame our fans couldn’t come to Luton last season as I was really excited about the atmosphere at that one.
“You can pick up a bit of momentum if you win a few on the bounce – especially at the start. It’s important to try and get a few back-to-back wins because it puts you in good stead for the rest of the season.
“As a defender, you main job is keeping clean sheets; last season we got a few on the bounce and if we can start the new season with a few, that will be great for us and will push us on.”