It’s often said “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and in a footballing sense this appears true for young West Australian playmaker, Ryan Edwards.
Having endured a roller coaster time back in Australia the previous season on-loan with his hometown team Perth Glory, Edwards’ has hit the ground running back at his parent club Reading FC.
“It’s been a reasonably good start, but it’s important now to stay consistent, kick on and keep progressing,” Ryan told Football Central.
“I have always thought I could compete and do well at this level and then it’s just what every young player hopes for is the opportunity, and I think I’ve taken mine.
“The manager has a track record for giving players a chance and I’m grateful for mine and want to keep impressing and improving everyday.”
The more stable environment at Reading has allowed the Olyroo to get back to focusing on his football which is reaping it’s rewards early on in this English Championship season.
“I’m happy at the moment, I’m settled both on and off the pitch, and I’m enjoying my football which is the most important thing,” explained Edwards.
“The first team staff are really attentive to detail and focus on the little one percentages. They give you confidence, everybody knows where they stand and how each other works which is really important.”
Despite the off-field dramas and media speculation which questioned the youngsters’ claim to a place in the Glory team, Edwards only takes the positives from his experience and has no time for regrets.
“The experience was invaluable,” revealed the versatile Edwards who can play the 10, out wide, or even the 8.
“There were many positives that stand out at my time with Glory; making my professional debut in men’s football, getting around 20 first team appearances and all up playing around 40 games in a football year, a full year in a first team environment and getting that first team exposure that I needed, playing with and against some football legends like William Gallas, Del Piero, Harry Kewell, Brett Emerton.
“What stands out the most would be getting called up for the Olyroos for the tournament in Oman in January and representing my country.
“The year at Glory was a great learning curve and eye opener. A really good experience to make me stronger, physically and mentally to succeed. Coming back to Reading, the season before was behind me and my only focus was enjoying my football, using what I learnt from my experiences at Perth, working hard and performing well to break into the Reading first team.”
With three starts and six appearances in all competitions this season, as well as grabbing a couple of assists, the 20-year-old has taken his chances so far.
Playing mostly in the traditional number 10 position, in behind the strikers where he feels he is ” most effective” the step up was something he has adapted to well.
“(The) Championship is another step up, the intensity and pace in those first 20 minutes on opening day at Wigan was so quick,” said Edwards.
“The quality of football, physicality, variation of different teams and footballing styles, and pace of the game makes you think and act so much quicker, it can only benefit you going forward. There is a different feel, each game there are people fighting for their lives and it’s a great feeling when you win.”
Edwards believes the Championship is a diverse competition that represents many styles of play and philosophies.
He feels the stereotype of the British game is something that is slowly changing as the reality is quite different.
“I think this stereotype is passing. It’s definitely one of the most exciting and competitive leagues there is.
“And the way the game is developing, teams that do play the direct, long ball game aren’t being as successful and the teams that are playing the attacking free flowing football are reaping the rewards.
“There have been and there will be those games that are the battle types, focusing on picking up the second ball and not many passes on the floor going on, but its how you adapt to that. The way we are doing things at Reading is exciting and really positive and what I’ve been involved in so far is that Reading and many of the other teams in this division are playing some real high tempo, quick passing football which is great to be a part of. ”
The early success experienced this season has seen somewhat a shift in his goals for the season at both club and international level.
“Coming back to Reading this season I would have never thought I’d be so involved and in the first team picture as much as I have been so early on.
“I’ve been working hard, and had a good pre-season so I felt ready as ever going into the first game and deserving of the start if I got the go ahead. I had my eyes set on trying to break through as quickly as possible and I achieved that from day one which was pleasing.
“With the national teams, my focus for that is being involved and making the Olyroo squads and hopefully progressing to the Olympics after qualifiers.
“There is an exciting time at the moment with the Socceroos with the new generation coming through. We are producing some quality players and its very exciting going forward. Ange has come out and said if you’re playing in the first team of your club and playing well then there is always a chance players could be in the frame.
“It’s also good as well, seeing the likes of Josh Brillante, Trent Sainsbury, Ben Halloran, Tom Rogic, all boys I have played with and against around the similar ages get their chance so it’s positive to think that if I keep my head down, work hard and stay in the first team frame at Reading then hopefully I can get noticed.
“It’s every boys dream to play for the national team and I’m no different. But for this season, the focus is on getting better everyday and working hard at Reading. I’ve had a reasonably good start, and its important now to stay consistent and be in and around the first team. And push to be in the starting eleven week in, week out.”
Reading’s manager, Nigel Adkins, has used a lot of players that have come from their academy so far this season.
Placed 15th with seven points from a possible fifteen but the young Aussie believes they can challenge for promotion come the end of the season.
Another two Aussies in the Premier League – Adam Fedrici is Reading’s first choice goalkeeper- would be a boost to Australia’s stocks.
“We are a young side, but also have some very good experienced players and international players too. We’ve had eight debuts this season already, but most of us are twenty years of age and above and can’t be considered young anymore.
“We’ve got a very close group, great team spirit and no matter the age we want to be pushing promotion and that’s where Reading deserves to be – in the Premier League.
“I think there are favourites, Nottingham Forest, Brighton, Leeds. But it is very hard to say at this early stage and very hard to say which team will be there come end of the season.
“This league is so fierce and tight, and anybody can beat anybody on their day, that if you can go on a winning streak you could find yourself right up there in the mix.”