The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Dan Barnes

GARATH McCleary says that he has never had to cope with an in­jury lay-off as psy­cho­log­i­cally test­ing as the eight months he spent side­lined with a bro­ken an­kle.

The 31-year-old, Read­ing’s sec­ond-long­est serv­ing player be­hind left­back Jor­don Obita, made his first start since Fe­bru­ary as Paul Cle­ment’s side beat Mill­wall 3-1 just over a week ago, his first ap­pear­ance since he suf­fered the break against Sh­effield United last term.

Af­ter surgery wasn’t ini­tially re­quired, the winger, capped 24 times by Ja­maica, had to go un­der the knife in the sum­mer and is de­lighted to have suc­cess­fully tra­versed a long and ar­du­ous road to re­cov­ery.

“It’s been the hard­est in­jury to cope with men­tally, es­pe­cially with the set­back I had,” said McCleary.

“I’ve had in­juries be­fore, so ex­pe­ri­ence comes into it. Peo­ple push you in the gym too which helps.

“Jordan (Obita) is in­jured too, so we’ve been push­ing each other to get fit. I’ve got peo­ple out­side of foot­ball who helped me get through it.

“Peo­ple out­side of foot­ball don’t see the other side of it. I’m just thank­ful to be back out there and hope­fully, I can kick on.”

Mean­while, McCleary’s man­ager Cle­ment has de­fended his tin­ker­man ap­proach at the Made­jski.

Head­ing into this week­end, the Roy­als chief had named the same side just once but be­lieves his pol­icy is par for the course.

“Stability would be nice but at this level you can’t throw the same 11 out ev­ery game,” said Cle­ment.

“It would be nice to have a bit more con­sis­tency – hope­fully, in­juries and the level of per­for­mance from the play­ers will help to do that.”

RE­TURN: Garath McCleary

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