“IT’S the stuff you dream of.”

So said a bruised yet beaming 20-year-old Tom McIntyre after making his league debut for his hometown club.

An injury crisis in central defence saw Academy centre-back McIntyre called up for the 1-1 draw at Rotherham on Saturday.

And the youngster did not disappoint alongside Tyler Blackett, despite finishing up with a black eye.

“It’s magic really, it’s the stuff you dream of,” he said. “Having supported the club all my life, it was so special to be out there with the boys.

“I’ve come all the way through the age groups and that’s the pinnacle of it – it’s magic.

“I’ve seen so many other boys doing it that, going out there, it gave me great confidence.

“I’ve seen Gylfi (Sigurdsson) play and all the old boys, so it felt magic. It’s just a bit surreal because you grew up watching them, to then finally be amongst them feels really special.”

McIntyre hails from Earley, attended Maiden Erlegh School and Aldrington Primary and first owned a Reading season ticket when he was four years old.

His debut at the weekend – which came in front of nine members of his family – ended a long road back from a serious knee and back injury

“I was a bit nervous but excited as well, I felt ready for it,” he added. “That’s what I’ve been working towards for my whole career.

“It has been a few tough years for me because I injured my back and I was out for a year, came back and then did something quite serious to me knee so I was out for another year. I haven’t played many games in the last few years.

“I’ve got a lot of people to thank because they’ve put a lot of faith in me, the physios and medical department have been great with me.

“I really appreciate all the support I’ve been given by the club and everyone else.

“There were some dark days, but this makes it all worth it.”

McIntyre could keep his place in the side for tomorrow's home clash against Middlesbrough (3pm ko).