Royals defender Lewis Gibson came off the bench at QPR on Saturday for just his third appearance in Reading colours – he replaced Omar Richards midway through the first period, after injury forced the full-back to withdraw.
His introduction was seamless – slotting in at the left-back berth, he helped to neutralise the Rangers attack and keep a clean-sheet for the side. From the Everton loanee’s perspective, it has been about keeping himself ticking over while out of the squad in order to be ready for his opportunities.
“Every footballer will go through this period at some point in their career – it’s about keeping yourself happy and doing everything you can to maintain a level,” he explained.
“That’s about doing little bits when you’re not involved… not to sulk, and to get on with it and focus on improving yourself while you can’t help the team – so that you’re ready.
“I knew it was going to be a tough test. I knew quite early that I was going to be a target for them, because I was fresh on the pitch and they would try to catch me cold. Their wingers were sharp, so it was about building myself into the game, getting the first few passes correct and building from there.
“And having Liam Moore next to me is good – he’s a good talker and it helped to build me into the game with him speaking and keeping me on my toes.
“It’s part of football – we’re gutted for Omar. He’s been excellent all season and you can’t fault him at all. But it’s up to the manager what happens from now but I’ll be ready if I’m called upon.”
And on the whole, he felt it showed that the team were maturing – putting the midweek disappointment of defeat to Birmingham behind them, and being able to carve out a triumph thanks to a late Michael Olise strike.
He continued: “The first thing we did in the changing room was sing happy birthday to Michael! He’s come on and got us the winner.
“And obviously we’re delighted with the win as well and to bounce back after midweek. We’re learning from the process.
“In the past we have lost a few on the bounce, so it was massive for us today to bounce back as quick as possible and put in a good performance.”