ADAM Reach insists he is ready to make the step up and become a first team regular under Aitor Karanka after spending last season away from Middlesbrough.
Reach had the first half of the campaign at Shrewsbury before joining Bradford City in January and the 21-year-old impressed so much that the Bantams outlined their desire to re-sign the winger on a long-term loan deal.
However, Karanka has also been impressed with the Chester-le-Street-born attacker, who has featured in Boro’s pre-season programme with goals in the wins over Rochdale and Hartlepool.
"He could play a big part," Karanka said. "He and Brad Fewster are two young players who have impressed me the most. He has trained well and done very well when he has played in pre-season. It was a very nice surprise for me."
Reach played 75 minutes of the Teessiders’ final warm-up against Villarreal on Saturday and the 21-year-old then revealed he hopes his apprenticeship is now over.
“Hopefully I’ve done my loan spells and have them behind me now,” Reach said. “I want to stay here and play. I wouldn’t have changed last season, I think it was the best thing for me to go out on loan and gain experience and come back more of a man than a boy.
“Last season was hard at times. It was difficult living away from home and having to meet new players and settle into a new town.
“Hopefully the experience and confidence I gained will roll into this season. I’ve just got to do everything I can to get in the team.
“The manager hasn’t pulled me into his office and told me whether I’m going to play or not, he’s just let everyone get on with it and show him what they can do.
“I feel I’ve done enough to put myself in the frame to start against Birmingham. I came in fresh from the summer and have scored two goals.''
He added: “Villarreal was a different test. I didn’t get much of the ball attacking wise but I put a shift in. You’re going to get games like that when you don’t get the rub of the green but the bottom line is you’ve got to work hard and I think I always do that.
“We’ve got another week of training and every place is still up for grabs so we’ve just got to keep going.”
Karanka still hopes to add more players to his squad before Saturday’s season opener at the Riverside. Spanish attacker Emilio Nsue arrived on Friday with Boro hopeful of announcing Kenneth Omeruo’s loan deal this week.
Nsue became the fourth Spanish player to arrive under Karanka after Daniel Ayala, Tomas Mejias and Kike, and Reach believes the growing contingent will play a big part when it comes to executing the head coach’s philosophy.
He said: “The manager didn’t want to come in and change too much too early. We dragged last season out and boxed it up and then he could really start his own ideas this season.
“Everyone has bought into it and I’ve seen a big difference in the players. He’s bought in his own players and a lot from Spain, who have grown up with his mentality and playing the way he likes to play. That’s helped us a lot as well. As the season goes on we’re just going to get stronger and stronger.
“Training has been a lot different. There’s been a lot more ball work and it’s been about retaining possession and playing quickly with a high tempo, but on the other hand he has stressed how important it is to win the ball back and press high, and I think in the last couple of games it has shown.”