CALLUM Harriott is ready to stake a claim for a place in the Reading FC first team after ending his 18-month injury nightmare.

Harriott was one of few Royals players to shine in their 2-1 pre-season defeat at non-league Eastleigh on Saturday.

The fleet-footed winger displayed promising signs with his eye-catching dribbling and pin-point crosses against Andy Hessenthaler’s men.

Harriott, 24, has been out of first-team action since December 2016 after sustaining a serious hamstring injury in the infamous fog-abandoned clash against Fulham.

Now, he is determined prove his fitness and ability to Royals boss Paul Clement.

“It’s been a long, long time,” Harriott told the Chronicle.

“In every position there is always competition for places. Every game, everyone needs to give 100 per cent. It’s the manager’s choice on who he selects, so if you’re not picked you need to keep working. But I’m hoping for a season full of goals.”

Harriott missed a gilt-edged chance to equalise on Saturday, though he was one of Clement’s better players on the day.

Reflecting on the result, Harriott continued: “We weren’t good in the first half. It was our first game and we had a tough week of training, but obviously we’re looking to push ourselves to another level next week and keep working harder to get the right results.

“I was playing a bit wider than usual, I put a few balls in, but I also missed a header which was a vital chance. Those are things that you work on in pre-season.

“Those chances will come again and, all that matters, is that next time I take it.

“It was a disappointing goal to let in at the end and we just need to be a little more switched on – that’s something we can focus on in training.”

Harriott nearly made his comeback towards the end of last season, but he was faced with another gut-wrenching set-back.

The former Charlton Athletic winger now insists he wants to put his injury woes behind him. “I miss scoring goals and winnings games with the team,” stated Harriott. “I’m back now, I can’t dwell on the past. I just have to look forward.

“I felt it was the right time to come back. I had a few games for the reserves, but after a while the hamstring went again. These injuries aren’t something you can rush back, it’s not a small injury.

“It was obviously frustrating to be out for so long, but towards the end of the season I got in plenty of training and I had a strong pre-season. I’m trying to get fit and make up for the time I’ve missed.”

Meanwhile, Reading are believed to have made multiple bids for Coventry City’s Marc McNulty.

Clement ideally wants to sign two new strikers before the start of the season, but Sky Blues manager Mark Robins is determined to keep McNulty, who hit 28 goals last season, at Ricoh Arena.

When quizzed if Royals would return with another bid for McNulty, assistant manager Nigel Gibbs stated: “I’ve got no comment on that.

"We’re waiting to see if we can bring players in. I’m sure there are players out there the club are trying to bring in and we’ll have to wait and see.”

Reading have been linked with a host of other strikers including Genoa’a David Milinkovic, Nottingham Forest’s Billy McKay, Brondby’s Teemu Pukki and CSKA Sofia’s Fernando Karanga.

Ex-Stoke City midfielder Stephen Ireland has also caught Clement’s eye, though his hopes of re-signing Aston Villa loan defender Tommy Elphick on a permanent deal appear to have been dashed.