PAUL Clement has warned his Reading FC squad to prepare for the toughest pre-season of their lives.

Royals will jet off on their luxury holidays this week in a bid to unwind following a hugely disappointing season that saw them escape relegation on the very last day.

But boss Clement, 47, sent the players away with a strict fitness routine which he expects them to maintain during their time off.

And goalkeeper Vito Mannone, who will spend his break with his family in Italy, said Clement has warned the players to expect a tough time when they return.

“We need to rest,” he stated.

“I will try to run and try to train and come back in the best physical shape.

“We want to be the club that goes up to the Premier League, not the club that’s fighting relegation.

“We need a great pre-season, both physically and mentally. We must stick together.

“Some players will come in and some players will leave, but we need to keep the team together and try to push on next season.

“We have six weeks to prepare for what will be a massive season ahead of us.

“There’s lots to take on board.

“The manager has already told us we’re going to have one of the hardest pre-seasons we’ve ever had.”

Shot-stopper Mannone confessed he was relieved to see the season come to an end after Royals cemented their place in the second-tier with a 0-0 draw at promoted Cardiff City on Sunday.

And the 30-year-old admitted Reading only have themselves to blame for finishing 20th in the table just 12 months after former boss Jaap Stam's side had ended up third.

“I can think of five or six games when we needed to keep the lead and we threw it away in the last 10 minutes,” he asserted.

“We caused our own problems with the way we played and our own mistakes.

“We had a lot of injuries and a lot of problems. We had a change of manager as well.

“It’s never easy when someone else comes in. You have to work your socks off and learn what he wants you to do in a few weeks.

“We have the qualities to be at least in the top six.”

Since Clement arrived in March, the team’s attacking displays have been called into question by supporters.

During Sunday’s stalemate with Cardiff City, Royals mustered just a single shot at goal, which was off-target.

And Mannone concluded: “We will follow the manager and we will learn how to attack.

“We know we haven’t taken enough shots.

“We need to put other teams under pressure. Our stadium needs to be a fortress, it was difficult this season because we didn’t win enough games at home.”