RISING Reading FC star Sam Smith hailed an "amazing experience" after making his first-team debut on Tuesday night.

Striker Smith played the full 90 minutes during an encouraging display, with two Liam Kelly rockets firing Royals past Gillingham 2-1 in the first round of the Carabao Cup.

Speaking to the Chronicle after his memorable night at Madejski Stadium, the 19-year-old beamed: “It was completely different to the Under 23s, it was just amazing being out there.

“It was a completely different experience, but hopefully there’ll be many more.

“I was a bit star-struck, but that’s what you train for, and I just got used to it really, you forget about where you are, and you just concentrate on the game.

“In the first few minutes I couldn’t believe where I was, then as soon as I got the ball it was fine.”

After his impressive debut, Smith has his sights set on more action as Jaap Stam’s squad continues to be hit by injuries.

He revealed: “There’s been a lot of injuries, we’ve been training really hard and anything can happen in football, since the start of the season it’s been a rollercoaster, and I’ve got to just keep taking my chances and preparing and training hard.”

The talented teenager also praised the impact of his teammates after starting as one of 10 academy graduates in the squad.

He said: “Liam (Kelly) has helped out loads, as he’s one of my best friends.

“Chris Gunter I’m really close with as well, but I think the most surprising one for me was Liam Moore. He’s such a big character and as a young lad everyone looks up to him, but the way he’s looked after us young lads, that was brilliant.”

Kelly, like Smith, made his first team debut in a Carabao Cup match against MK Dons, and highlighted the similarities between himself and Reading’s next batch of youngsters.

“It was good, I played with probably all of them in the academy, so for them to get their chance out there it was very pleasing.

“I made my debut in it last year, then kicked on from there, so if they can do that this year and then get more minutes in the next round and kick on, then you never know.”

Moore, fresh from signing his new five-year deal, spoke of his pleasure at seeing so many academy players making the team. He commented: “I think the young lads need to relish this chance. There’s a lot of injuries so they need to see that as an opportunity, and credit to them they did.

“I think we’ve got 11 or 12 injuries, and to have four or five youngsters starting is brilliant for them.

“It’s an opportunity for them to shine. That’s how it happened for Liam last year.

"I think I made my debut on the same day as him, and look where he’s gone now, so I think they should take credit from that, look at that and try and emulate it in the future.

“If there’s still injuries in the next round and they can get another chance and try again, you never know what will happen.”