TENNAI Watson has signed a new Reading FC contract until 2021.

The Academy graduate put pen to paper earlier today after impressing Royals boss Jaap Stam.

Watson, 20, has been struggling with illness and injury for most of this season, but Stam is excited by the youngster's undoubted talent.

“Tennai is a promising young full-back with a lot of potential, so it’s good news that he has signed a new deal with the club,” declared Stam.

“He has pace, key defensive qualities and he likes to get forward when he can. I look forward to seeing him make more progress once he returns to full fitness after his injury.”

Watson rose through Royals youth-team ranks and was involved in their run to the FA Cup semi final in 2014.

He made his first-team debut on the opening day of the 2016/17 season when he replaced Jordan Obita in a home win against Preston.

His first start soon followed in a victory over Plymouth in the EFL Cup and was a regular part of the squad during the remainder of the campaign, making seven appearances in all.

Sadly, Watson’s plans to kick-on this campaign have been hampered by injury and illness, though he has now made a full recovery and has been involved in four recent games for Scott Marshall’s Under 23s.

Reading technical director Brian Tevreden paid tribute to Watson’s dedication, saying: “Despite a spell on the sidelines this season, Tennai has remained a positive throughout his recovery and, as we saw last season, is a very talented young full-back who I am sure can go on to make a big impact.

“I’m very pleased he has committed the next three-and-a-half years to what we’re trying to achieve here at Reading.”

Royals chief executive Ron Gourlay added: “Tennai is another young footballer who has come through our Academy system to break into the first team. He is held in very high regard.”

Watson is the latest young player to sign a long-term contract with Reading this season after Liam Kelly, Omar Richards, Andy Rinomhota and Josh Barrett.