GARATH JUST SO GLAD TO BE BACK IN ACTION
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