Reading v Barnsley - No doubting Luke Thomas as he aims to prove more than an impact player

LUKE THOMAS is the first to admit that he was a ‘bit lazy’ last season.

Such candour in a relatively young player is striking yet refreshing and points to a professional keen to go the extra mile to establish himself and make himself more consistent and better.

Thomas’s talent has sporadically come to the fore since arriving at Oakwell last season, none moreso than the opening day of last term when he netted on his Reds debut in a win over Fulham.

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That was one of the peaks for the ex-Derby County and Coventry City player, who felt he was his own worst enemy at times last term.

Working hard: Luke Thomas. Picture: Tony Johnson

A fresh focus as last season went on reminded him that things do not arrive on a plate at Championship level with the sight of him doing extra work on the training ground in order to provide himself with an added edge likely to have been noted by head coach Gerhard Struber.

The Austrian cannot fail to have noticed Thomas’s outstanding impact in the No 10 role in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win at Middlesbrough, with his display – and that of several others – providing him with food for thought ahead of today’s game.

Thomas said: “At Derby and Barnsley, there are a lot of players who do extra work.

“I thought I did not need to do it, but as the last season went on, the only thing letting me down was my end product.

“I needed to stop being lazy and follow the leaders in the team who set good examples and I needed to get up and do it if I wanted to be a starter every week and not an impact player from the bench.

“I have done extra work on the training ground when it is suitable. I am always watching football whenever it is on TV and looking at the players who play in my position and what they are doing and are good at.

“At Derby, the main one who helped me was Tom Huddlestone and I did a lot of work with him and I think we all know how talented he has been with some of the balls he puts through.”

Thomas provided assists for both goals in the Reds’ impressive victory at the Riverside Stadium and as far as the 21-year-old goes, he is already half-way towards equalling his number of assists for 2019-20 with a mere three matches of this season gone.

He added: “I only got four assists last season in every competition and I am hoping to get at least 10-plus this season and help the team as much as I can.”

Struber has stressed that he and his players had no contact with Boro manager Neil Warnock – who has tested positive for Covid-19 – before or after the tie.

Warnock is thought to have watched the game from the West Stand with assistant Kevin Blackwell and first-team coach Ronnie Jepson in charge of the team.

Struber said: “Everyone feels fine and there are no symptoms in the staff or whole squad. This is a good situation right now and also in the next few days, we hope to have the same situation.

“The players had no contact with him (Warnock) and I had no contact with him. I didn’t see anyone from my staff in contact with him, but I am not 100 per cent.”

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Thank you

James Mitchinson