Reading coach James Oliver-Pearce has described the first-team squad as 'in a better place' than last year and labelled the early pre-season work 'outstanding.'

Now in his third pre-season with the club, Oliver-Pearce continues to build his reputation as an exciting, young coach who has now worked heavily with the likes of Mark Bowen, Paul Ince and Ruben Selles.

The former AFC Wimbledon man is one of Selles' key staff and had sat down with the Reading Chronicle to reflect on last season's efforts and get fired up for the new campaign to come.

Officially ending the season in April, having overturned a 10-point deficit to comfortably survive in League One, every connected to the club needed a chance to recharge after a 12-month slog marred by off-field battles.

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"This summer, after the year we all had, I think it is important that you take some time to reflect, unwind a little bit and give back some of the time you missed out with your family," Oliver-Pearce explained. "I’ve got four children of my own now, so it is important that I spend time with them, and they see dad at home, and I get to see their sports days and events at school. That was really nice.

"This off-season has been longer than normal so toward the end I felt like I needed to keep busy. I was in contact with Mark [Bowen] and Ruben to see if there was anything I could go in and keep busy with. Normally in an off-season, there is stuff in the transfer window you would have been finishing up but that’s difficult for us. We were able to review things and start planning for pre-season, which has been really useful."

Back to Bearwood for training on Wednesday, the popular playing squad have been put through their paces early on and have thoroughly impressed.

"I think we're in a better place in terms of a men's first-team point of view, Oliver-Pearce explained. "We have got more first-team players, some of them players that were probably not considered first-team players last season, you Kelvin, he's Kelvin, a Michael Craig, Tyler Bindon, there's a lot of them. Some are still with us; some have obviously moved on like Nelson Abbey and Caylan Vickers etcetera. They've got a season's worth of minutes under their belts and a season's worth of experiences under their belt because sometimes it's not just on the pitch that they're learning, and a lot of the tactical information and the core is still present.

"You look at the team that largely finished against Blackpool and a lot of that squad is still with us. I think we saw signs in that game of what we really are capable of doing in front of such an impressive crowd- to have that many people there and for us to be able to play with an energetic dynamic performance with lots of fast and attacking football was really enjoyable.

"Everyone wants more. That goes without saying. I think we're obviously going to have to be patient in some situations, but it’s pointless hoping and wishing for something that currently isn't with us.

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"We have what we have and what we do have is a fantastic group of lads. In the first three days, they've been outstanding. They come back like they've missed each other. They're really happy to see each other. What they remember from last season, how they applied it, was just such a joy to watch.

"They've come back in a really positive place, so hopefully that continues. Obviously, results dictate a lot of things so we think we're in a good place and we hope that that can only kick on again."