One through the door already this summer – Josh Laurent became our first summer signing when he signed on the dotted line on Tuesday.
It’s been a while since he last played, due to Shrewsbury’s League 1 campaign coming to an early end. Now, he’s looking forward to getting out on the pitch and injecting dynamism into the team as he links up with Mark Bowen again.
“I’ve had a long time off football now,” said Laurent. “I’ve been waiting and waiting to get back, to get my head down and work hard again. I can’t wait to do it. I’m hungry, and I’ll work hard for the club.
“I never thought I’d miss running! I actually miss running and working hard… I haven’t touched a ball properly in months, so I can’t wait to get going.
“My biggest asset is probably my legs and the energy I can bring – I like to get up and down, box to box, get around the pitch well. I just try to give the team some energy throughout the 90 minutes.
“The manager understands me as a player, and that was a big thing for me. I’ve been around him when I was younger and I know how he is and it suits me well.
“I signed at QPR when I was 17, and Mark Bowen was the assistant manager there. If I’m completely honest, I was a bit scared of him! I was a young boy coming up, and you see him around the place – straight-talking, straightforward and tells you how it is.
“When you’re young that can be quite scary! But I’ve grown up now and it’s quite refreshing to see how he talks.”
Even though it is an early signing in the context of this window, it is a transfer that has required patience – as Josh himself revealed.
“I found out in January that Reading were interested – I kept hoping that it would happen then, but it didn’t – so I had to get my head down and continue to play football,” he said.
“When my season finished, I spoke to Mark again and that was really pleasing for me. I’ve just been waiting to get it done, I’ve had to have a lot of patience – it’s taken a long time, but I’m really happy now.
“As soon as I heard interest and spoke to Mark, it came straight to the top of my list. It went quiet for a little bit so I thought I might have to rethink – but as soon as he told me that he was still interested, it was an easy decision for me to make.”
Josh’s route to Reading has come via some far-flung clubs – the London-born midfielder represented the likes or Hartlepool and Bury, before the last two seasons as Shrewsbury.
Those experiences have only helped to kick his career on; learning on the job by playing first-team football, and even mixing it up against Championship and Premier League sides as a Shrews player!
“Going to Hartlepool was a big change in my career, and my personal life,” he continued. “Out of my comfort zone – the sort of thing that you don’t want to do but you know that you have to do it. It made me man up, taught me a lot… and I’m still learning. Hopefully I continue to learn here.
“Shrewsbury were really good to me. It will always hold a special place in my heart. It was a home to me in football, and that’s what I needed at the time – they gave to me. So I give a lot of my respect and love to that football club.
“I love those big games, I thrive off them. It hits my heart, hits my soul, and gets me up for it. Those FA Cup memories will live long in my heart and my head.
“And everyone wants to get into this league – it’s a big step to come to the Championship. I want to test myself in one of the best leagues, and learn from my teammates as well who have a lot of experience and have been playing at this level already. And then to try and test myself every week against others… I can’t wait.”