David Meyler says promotion is a realistic target for Reading this season.
The Royals returned to training this week and face their first friendly away at National League side Eastleigh on Saturday afternoon (12.30pm).
Meyler, who arrived this summer on a free transfer from Hull City, is set to get his first chance to stake a claim for a place having been given permission to play by his former club, despite his Reading contract not officially starting until July 1.
And the Irishman believes that 2018/19 could be a memorable campaign, despite the Royals’ lowly 20th-placed finish in the Championship last season.
“There has been a bit of a turnover but two seasons ago this team was a kick of the ball away from the Premier League,” said Meyler.
“In this division there is small margins. It’s about consistency over 46 games, which is very difficult.
“This team is capable of getting promoted. I’ve played in teams that have been very similar.
“This team is probably better than the first team I played in with Hull in 2012, which got promoted. We came second.
“So do I believe we can get promoted? Yes I do.
“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.”
Meyler, 29, arrives with good pedigree of two promotions from the Championship as well as multiple seasons in the Premier League for Hull and Sunderland.
The central midfielder also has 24 caps for the Republic of Ireland so when he became available on a free transfer, Reading made a quick move.
And Meyler says Paul Clement played a big role in tempting him to Berkshire.
“The main reason I came was the manager,” he said.
“After I’d spoken to him, he’d laid out his plans, his desire to get this team promoted and to get this club back to the Premier League.
“After a couple of conversations with him, I was blown away and it was something I thought was the best for me at this moment in my career.
“I’m really excited going forward.”
He added: “I had internationals just after the season ended so I wanted to focus on that.
“Once I’d spoken to the manager, I was very flattered by the way he spoke and very impressed with what he had to say and the way he wanted to go about things.
“Even from the first three days you can see that. The way he’s organised training sessions with his coaching staff, we’ve been bang at it.”
Meyler arrives in arguably the most congested position in the Reading squad.
Liam Kelly, John Swift, Leandro Bacuna, Dave Edwards, Pelle Clement, George Evans, Joey van den Berg and youngster Andy Rinomhota are all still currently at the club and able to play in central midfield.
And although Meyler is a new arrival, he is not taking his position in the team for granted.
“You can’t get comfortable,” he said.
“Even for me, I’ve just signed and the manager has gone to great depth to get me to come here but I’m under no illusion that I’m just going to walk into the team.
“I have to work hard.
“I have to be better than every other player in midfield and that’s no different to anyone else.
“If you want to succeed you have to be willing to work harder than everyone else and if we do that, it will probably take into games that we’re working harder than other teams.
“80% of the time if you outrun or outwork them, you end up winning the game.”