The Reading players are back in pre-season training, we've got friendlies to look forward to and the fixture list is out. So, with just over five weeks to go until we head to Loftus Road to face QPR in our first Championship fixture, here's a list of five things I'd like to see happen at the club before we get cracking.
Stephen Quinn To Prove His Fitness
With Danny Williams seemingly bound for pastures new, Reading have quite a big gap to fill in the middle of the park. While thoughts naturally turn to the likes of Joey van den Berg, George Evans, John Swift and others not yet at the club, there's one player under contract who might be an ideal replacement, Stephen Quinn.
The Irishman had some pretty rotten luck on the injury front last season, with his campaign abruptly ended by knee problems. He did make a few brief appearances for the under 23's before the play-offs but this summer will be his big chance to prove to Jaap Stam he can stay fit and play a big part. With the midfielder also out of contract next summer, the 31-year-old will be keen to show he's still worthy of at least one more big contract.
The New Pitch To Settle
It's been 11-years since the Madejski Stadium has had a truly new pitch to deal with. Since then we've been constantly patching it up but sadly time caught up with the old girl and finally she had to be replaced at a cost believed to be somewhere close to a million pounds.
The ground staff did the best they could last season but Jaap Stam had to bring up the state of the surface several times, particularly over the winter months but this time around there should be no room for excuses.
A new pitch should give players more confidence to keep the ball on the deck and hopefully it might just lead to a bit more adventurous play from the team this season.
No Big Departures
I appreciate the term 'big departures' is subjective but generally this applies to anyone significantly involved in last season's play-off action. Nobody in this Reading squad is irreplaceable but it would be a blow to lose the likes of Liam Moore, John Swift or Liam Kelly before a ball has been kicked.
The longer you play under Stam, the more you appreciate what he wants and how the rest of the team play, so taking away someone with a year's experience of that would be damaging.
Likewise, anyone new you bring in is going to take time to get up to speed, so if we do HAVE to sell anyone, I hope it's sooner rather than later.
As hinted at during discussion on the new pitch, if there was one complaint you could aim at last season's fantastic run to third, was that at times it wasn't overly exciting, particularly in front of goal. Very rarely were Reading truly able to dismantle an opposition and while a 1-0 win gives you the same points as 5-0, it often doesn't leave you with a very satisfied feeling leaving the Mad Stad.
So this summer I'd like to see a bit more attacking intent from Stam and the players. It would be nice to really put up some big numbers in our pre-season encounters, or at least create the volume of chances needed to score 3/4/5 in a game.
I'm not expecting an overnight revolution but some early signs of progress would help inject a bit of enthusiasm and give fans a pick-me-up after our play-off woes.
An Academy Product To Show He's Got What It Takes
One of the really refreshing stories of last summer was Liam Kelly's emergence into the first team picture. Kelly had little hype behind him before Jaap took over but the midfielder worked his way into the frame with some composed performances, leapfrogging the likes of Tariqe Fosu, Aaron Kuhl and Jack Stacey, all of whom have now moved on.
Those departures have opened the door for someone new to step up and prove they've got what it takes. Will it be time for Josh Barrett to re-emerge after a promising end to 2015/16? Perhaps Danny Loader bursts on to the scene, or George Legg leapfrogs Anssi Jaakkola and Ali Al-Habsi to become our goalkeeper for the next decade.
Regardless of who it is, it would be a nice boost to see another home grown talent put his hand up and get himself into contention.
So that's my wish list but what do you really want to see before we kick-off at Loftus Road? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.