With the restart imminent, Reading came out 3-1 winners in a friendly game against Portsmouth on Sunday.
In many respects, a dry run for the weeks ahead. A well-contested fixture against a good standard of opposition, in an empty stadium – all part of the learning process that will help the side to fly into the final nine.
“I’m delighted to be back in our home settings – there was a little buzz about the place just arriving this morning,” Bowen reflected after the match.
“I’m very grateful to Kenny Jackett for bringing his team down, and it was a good workout. They played two different XIs in the two halves of the game, so it wasn’t as if their first XI faded because they hadn’t had as much training as us… they were fresh to the end.
“It was a decent standard of game. Lots of positives came out of it, and there’s lots of stuff for us to look at to try to fine-tune going into next weekend’s game against Stoke.
“But I’m stood here delighted with the workout. It has been a long time coming. We’ll warm down and then start really focusing on the game against Stoke.
“There are a few little things – in terms of the build-up to the game and little things that players and staff do – where it is important that we make a few notes in our heads to make sure they’re right for next week as well. It’s new to us all and we understand that.
“And for the lads, getting the experience. It’s not often they play against different opposition in an empty stadium. They do it in training games occasionally when we come here, but against another club it is new.
“We conceded a goal today – and then it was interesting from my point of view to see the reaction, where you don’t have a crowd reaction. Then it’s a mental thing to go again and maintain the standards we’ve got.
“The scoreline isn’t irrelevant in these games, but you’re looking for players to do the right things. There were times when we played well, and there were times when individuals made bad selections in possession. That comes around with more training sessions as a group, more games.
“That might catch some teams out early on in the resumption of the season – players making wrong decisions at the wrong times because it has been so long. So in that sense I’m delighted with the way this game has gone.
“We’ll have a look at the bodies – a few have played the full 90 so there’ll be a few aches and pains, but most players are fit and well.
“We’ve got a big squad, and with nine games in five weeks, that will be important. In the German league they have had a lot of injuries because it’s a really high intensity of games in a short space of time. If we have that, I’d like to think we have the strength in the depth of the squad to deal with it.”