I distinctly remember sitting down with Jaap Stam at a pre-match press conference and asking him whether Josh Barrett would be part of his future first-team plans.

The Dutchman’s answer was short and very much to the point: “No.”

This was at a time where Royals had decided to base the structure of the club on the ‘Ajax model’, promoting young players from within before looking to recruit from elsewhere.

Barrett had impressed for the Under 23s and was even given a stint of first-team football under Brian McDermott’s tenure, where he looked a decent prospect.

But Stam had decided that Barrett was not the player for him, and instead shipped the Oxford-born midfielder out on loan.

That could not have helped Barrett’s confidence much. I am not privy to private conversations between Jaap and Josh, but I would imagine the youngster was told he was not part of the manager’s first-team plans.

Barrett was given another opportunity to impress when Paul Clement took over as manager, but once again he was shipped out on loan to a team in a lower division.

Usually, when two managers decide a player is not good enough to be in their team, it means something.

Even Barrett himself admitted that he was considering options away from football after falling significantly down the pecking order at Madejski Stadium.

But Jose Gomes came in and saw something different, something which many others have told me about Barrett. He saw an energetic young footballer with raw and untapped potential.

Whether it was an attitude thing before I am not sure, but from an outsider’s perspective Barrett appears to have knuckled down and is clearly worked hard over the summer to force himself into Gomes’ first-team plans.

Within the space of a few months, Barrett has gone from a total outcast to stepping off the bench against a high-flying Swansea City and almost single-handedly changing the game with his energy, helping Royals take a point back to Berkshire.

The 21-year-old also excelled during a Carabao Cup tie against Plymouth with a well-taken brace – including a wonder goal from the edge of the area.

“Viva Josh Barrett” rings out from the stands whenever he picks up the ball and it is clear the Reading FC faifthful have taken to young man who has been at the club since the age of eight.

Make no mistake about it, this is his final chance to succeed as a Royal but if he keeps his attitude and performances up, I can see a true Reading FC cult hero in the making.