Reading defender Tom Holmes, who is enjoying his breakout season, has discussed the physicality of regular first team football ahead of their crucial clash with Cardiff City.

The 21-year-old has been with the club since the age of eight, making 34 appearances this season despite only notching one previous senior appearance back in 2017-18.

Holmes said: “There’s been a lot of games, especially compared to my last season when I only played about 10 matches, and this year’s been very different.

“I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been very hard on the body but it’s something that I’ve loved, and I’ve learned from the more experienced players to see how they cope with it all. It’s where I want to be so it’s something that I’ve had to get used to and I’ve really enjoyed it.”

The young defender spent last season on loan, serving a tough apprenticeship in the Belgian second division with KSV Roeselare before relegation left them bankrupt.

In strikingly different circumstances, Holmes will line up in a huge game against Cardiff City this evening as Reading seek to keep their play-off hopes alive.

Currently, The Royals occupy 7th spot in the Championship, five points adrift of the play-offs with just five games to play. Having lost momentum after a solid start to the season, tonight’s game will be absolutely crucial after a run of one win in their last six games.

Holmes said: “It’s going to be a big challenge, but we’re in front of the Sky cameras, and it’s one we’re looking forward to – we’re all ready to go.

“We just need to avoid worrying what’s going on elsewhere, we had a fantastic start to the season, so let’s look to emulate that and have a fantastic end to the season too.”

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