It was more than two years ago since Tom Holmes made his first team debut at Reading - playing the full ninety minutes in a 1-1 draw with Bolton Wanderers at the Madejski.
Still only 20 years of age, Holmes is setting his sights on making an impression on the senior side once more following a loan spell away in Belgium.
"I’m buzzing," he beamed. "I’m really excited to be back – it’s been a difficult four months without football and even before that I was injured...so it has been quite a long period without any football. But to be back here…I’m excited.
"The facilities at Bearwood are second to none – it must be one of the best training facilities in the country.
"That is exciting for players, to be back playing on good pitches – we’ve had months of trying to keep fit on bobbly pitches, having to hop fences to get balls back...so it’s nice to come back and be out there on such good surfaces.
"And the coaches were quite nice on us compared to previous years," he said after the first session back. "There was one six-minute run which was tricky and tough on the calves. But it’s all part of preparing for the new season isn't it."
Holmes spent last season at KSV Roeselare and overcame a number of challenges to improve himself as both a young man and a promising centre-half.
"It was a really good experience on the whole. I had to come back from not playing in the first few months, working hard in training and showcasing my skills.
"It was difficult to take, because you go out on loan to play games. But I thought I bounced back quite well and I got 12 or 13 games under my belt and did quite well in the games I played.
"Going out on loan was in itself a new experience for me. I’ve grown up here – I’ve never put on another shirt, so even putting on the Roeselare top was new to me.
"And living abroad, I made some friends for life. There were nine nationalities in the dressing room – so four or five different languages being spoken. Thankfully there was a group who chose to speak English so I naturally gravitated towards them.
"On the pitch, it was a good level of football and a good style of football too. There was a lot of football played, and I pride myself on being able to step in and play out from the back.
"But I was also able to show the other side of my game, my aerial ability for example. And hopefully now I can come back here and show the first team staff what I’ve picked up.
"The manager has been really good to me whilst I was out on loan. He would drop me messages telling me ‘well done, we’re watching what you’re doing’.
"That’s great for a loan player, good for me to hear. Now I’ve come back, I know it’s not a case of ‘Who is Tom Holmes?’ but more of a case of ‘He’s back with us now, let’s see where he’s at, if he fits in to what we are trying to build.'
"So it’s a really exciting time for a lot of us coming back in. And I’m sure being back here training with these boys is going to raise my levels too."