McCleary: Wing play key for Reading FC
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Garath McCleary in action against Crystal Palace.
WINGER Garath McCleary believes Reading's width could be their secret weapon in the Premier League this season.
McCleary, who joined the Royals from Nottingham Forest a day after his 25th birthday, made his home debut in the final pre-season game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Fans who were at the Madejski for the 2-0 win would have caught a glimpse of what Reading are capable of, with McCleary and Hal Robson-Kanu regularly outpacing their markers and putting in quality balls into the area.
McCleary, who was Forest's player of the season last year, said: "We played really well, especially in the second half. We created a lot of chances, got crosses in the box and thankfully finished a few. It's good for our strikers to get goals so it's been really good.
"All the wingers here are really direct and they like to get to the byline and put balls in the box."
That pace and penetration could prove pivotal as they take on Stoke City in the Premier League curtain raiser this Saturday. "We know how they play, they're a good team," he said. "They've been in the Premier League quite a while now and what they do, they do really well so I think we'll have to try and get as many second balls as we can and hopefully we can use our width and our strikers can get shots on goal."
McCleary, who was playing non-league football at Slough Town just seven years ago, added: "It's exciting, I can't wait to get started. I think it will be a really tough game against Stoke but if we do what we do, and we do it right then hopefully we will get three points."
The pacy wide midfielder will be looking to etch his name into Brian McDermott's starting XI for Saturday, and with Jimmy Kebe sidelined through injury, he is certainly in the frame along with Robson-Kanu and skipper Jobi McAnuff.
One man who is almost certain to make his debut this weekend is fellow new recruit Pavel Pogrebnyak, who has already impressed in the dressing room.
"He's done really well in the Premier League," said McCleary. "I remember watching him at Fulham and he's done really well at Old Trafford and he scored three or four goals in one game so he's done really well.
"Hopefully he can do that for us this season."
He added: "We've got five or six very good strikers so hopefully whenever they get a chance they can do what they do in training everyday."
This article appeared in Reading Chronicle 15 Aug 12
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Aug 15, 14:01