It’s been a tough season for Reading to say the least. Going into Saturday’s game against Leeds United, we sit 18th in the table - just five points off the bottom three. However, things haven’t been any better for winger Garath McCleary, who just can’t catch a break when it comes to luck with injuries.
The Jamaican international has played just 818 minutes of league football this campaign, not completing the full 90 since the 1-0 win at Elland Road back in mid-October. Having come off the bench against Forest and Derby, GMac started at wing-back against Sheffield United just over a week ago - but, in depressingly familiar fashion, he was forced off after just six minutes.
The man himself posted on Instagram about his fitness frustration, saying the following:
“Soooo I’ve unfortunately broken my ankle and will be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign. After hearing the pop I stupidly tried to jog it off maybe from adrenaline and the thought ‘not another setback’...
“This season for me has been very stop start and disappointing/frustrating with injuries, rehab and other factors. As always I will be doing my utmost to be stronger, fit and ready.”
It’s a tough time for a player who’s been racked with injury setbacks over the last few years. GMac was electric for Reading in the 2013/14 campaign, but was restricted to no more than 22 starts in each of 2014/15 and 2015/16 before bouncing back last season.
With an injury as serious as a broken ankle, it’s tough to see how the 30 year-old will be able to bounce back in the long-term. We do of course wish him a speedy recovery.
In the same post, he also declared his “strong belief” that Reading will be able to push themselves away from the danger of relegation. The Royals may be hovering dangerously close to the bottom three, but GMac is still confident that they can be a Championship side next season.
“Backing the boys is a must and I will be every step of the way and have a strong belief in the staff & squad to turn our fortunes around. I’m hoping you fans feel the exact same and even if not will still generate the positive aura/atmosphere that we need. ❤️ #ReadingFc #Urzzz#BackTheBoys #ThroughTheGoodAndBad
McCleary has been through a fair bit as a Reading players, and (alongside Chris Gunter) is one of just two senior players to have been playing fairly regularly since as far back as 2012. Both were signed by Brian McDermott at the start of our ill-fated Premier League season, and have since racked up almost 500 appearances for the club combined.
At times like this when the team is in a rut and positivity around the club is low, it needs strong characters to help drag itself out of trouble. An Instagram post isn’t a lot on its own, but it’s always good to see the senior squad members stepping up to try to give us all a lift.