Tom Holmes made his first Royals start for more than two years last night in a Carabao Cup clash against Luton Town and the Academy graduate defender was amongst eight other Academy products who formed part of the action against the Hatters!
“It was a really good day for the Academy – a couple more debuts in there. And we all did our bit, applied ourselves well,” he said after the tie.
“We were pushing them at the end, but unfortunately we didn’t quite have enough to get that goal. It just didn’t quite come.
“A couple of times in the second half our lack of experience showed and their tactical nous came though, silly fouls, sloppy passes at crucial moments. But it’s something we’ll learn from.
“We were looking forward to that possible game against Manchester United, with games coming thick and fast there would have been more opportunities there for the boys who are fighting for places – so the result is a difficult one to take.”
Holmes personally is delighted to be back amongst the reckoning within the Royals first team group. “I’ve stuck at it,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to have the duration in my contract to allow me a couple of seasons getting experience away from the club and in the Under-23s.
“But now I’m loving being back training, back in the fold. This is where I want to be.
“I’m enjoying learning of Liam and Morro – they are really leading by example. They are trying to raise the level of training and by raising the level of competition it is only going to improve them as players as well as us. And that is ultimately what you want in a team.
“And you can see from the game against Luton that the manager wants defenders who are comfortable on the ball and want to keep possession of the ball, not force things.
“There were a couple of moments where I think I could have taken that on board a bit more, but that will come with time working with him on the training ground. I’m relishing the challenge.”