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Bradford City loan winger poised to Reach 40-game season
Loan spells can be lonely affairs but Adam Reach has had the best of both worlds during his stint with City.
The left winger, who netted his second goal on Saturday, has another fortnight to go in his third and final month at Valley Parade.
Reach has started all 15 games since making his debut against Preston in January. Add to that the 24 appearances he made for Shrewsbury during the first half of the campaign and Middlesbrough will get a more rounded, streetwise youngster reporting back for pre-season training.
The 21-year-old wide man certainly feels he has progressed as a professional from playing week in, week out.
And he has benefited from City’s close liaison with Boro – not just in terms of the old boy network in the dressing room but also the convenient geography.
While eager to immerse himself into League One life, Reach has also been able to get away from it by going home every night.
“It’s nice to be able to take your mind off football and go out with your friends to the gym, play tennis, whatever,” he said.
“When you’re away from home in a hotel, football is always running through your mind. You’re always thinking about the last game or the next one – you cannot switch off.
“I was living in a hotel at Shrewsbury all the time and it wasn’t easy. It’s been much better for me with Bradford because it’s a lot closer to home.
“I’m happy with the situation here. When life outside goes well, your football seems to reflect that.”
There was talk of Boro recalling Reach when Mustapha Carayol suffered a season-ending cruciate injury.
It left Albert Adomah, Luke O’Brien’s old Barnet nemesis, and Emmanuel Ledesma as the Championship side’s only proper wingers. On Saturday, they had 17-year-old local lad Mark Kitching on the bench as back-up against Derby.
Reach is confident he can put forward a strong case for selection for next season by continuing to play regularly now in a City shirt.
He said: “It was in the back of my mind when Carayol got injured that there was the possibility I might be taken back. But Boro decided they had people there who could do the job and let me continue my experience at Bradford.
“To be honest, the last thing I want to do is go back and not play at all for the rest of the season.
“I’m on course for hitting the 40-game mark, which is a pretty good achievement. I’d have taken that before the first ball was kicked, without a doubt.
“I’m enjoying playing at a club where the manager believes in me and has faith.
“I think it’s a good partnership between Bradford and Boro. League One is a good level to play at and it’s close enough so I can still live at home and see friends and family.”
Reach still has another two years on his contract in Teesside and boss Aitor Karanka is understood to be keeping a very close eye on his progress.
The winger said: “I know the club have been watching how I’ve been doing. I want to help the team finish the season well and I’m still playing to the last minute for personal reasons.
“Nobody can afford to take their foot off the gas. For me, it’s about impressing Middlesbrough, so I’ve got to keep giving 100 per cent.”
A live TV date at third-placed Rotherham on Friday would therefore seem the perfect stage to press his claims at his parent club. City will also need Reach firing if they are to break their Millers jinx.
He said: “If you want to do well in this league, you need to challenge yourself against the teams at the top. Hopefully next season you might be in their position in the play-offs.”
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