Michael Morrison hailed Reading FC forward Garath McCleary following his goal-scoring return to Madejski Stadium.

McCleary, who signed for Reading in 2012, was frozen out of first-team affairs by ex-manager Jose Gomes. He was isolated from the dressing room and told he was free to leave Madejski Stadium.

But new boss Mark Bowen had other ideas and immediately restored the 32-year-old’s players’ privileges when he took over Gomes’ role in October.

And 32-year-old McCleary made his long-awaited return to Madejski Stadium in sensational fashion on Saturday, scoring the third in Reading’s 3-0 win over Luton.

The ex-Jamaica international showed he has plenty to offer Bowen’s side, stealing the ball off of a defender before beating goalkeeper James Shea in a one-on-one.

Speaking after the game, defender Morrison beamed: “Everyone is really pleased for Garath.

“Lots of stuff went on behind the scenes and for him to come back the way he has just shows how professional he has been.

“He’s looked after himself so well. Anyone who has seen him with his shirt off knows there’s not an ounce of fat on him.

“He works hard every day and trains hard. When you’re not involved with the team that’s really difficult to do.”

McCleary followed the footsteps of striker Sam Baldock who also made a goal-scoring return to first-team action following similar treatment by Gomes.

Although Baldock was involved in training, he was told he was unlikely to feature for the first team.

The ex-Brighton striker returned with fire in his belly and scored two goals in his first two starts. He also received a standing ovation from the home crowd when he was substituted in the win over Luton.

And Morrison likened both McCleary and Baldock to new signings at Madejski Stadium.

He continued: “They’re good quality players who have been around the Championship a long time. They bring a lot of experience to the dressing room and they set standards day in day out.

“They’ve come into the fold and really improved the team. There are lots of people vying for their places but they’re keeping people out or they’re first off of the bench.

“They deserve it, they’ve worked hard and they’re scoring goals.”

Defender Chris Gunter has also returned to first-team training following Gomes’ departure. However, he has not yet been called up to the matchday squad.