Riley Stakes His Claim

Young full-back Joe Riley says he is ready to challenge for the right-back spot this season

Last season was a breakthrough year for academy graduate Joe Riley and the young defender is looking to push on further in the new season.

The 20-year-old played the full second half in the first pre-season friendly match against Ayr United on Wednesday night.

Riley has competition for the right-back position in Tyrone Mears and he is looking forward to staking his claim in the coming year.

He said: "When you're young you have to come in and you've always got to be making impressions and showing willingness.

"There is a bit of competition between me and Tyrone and Sam can play there too.

"If you get given a chance you've got to try and stay in the team and try and stay injury free."

Indeed, despite a good start to his Reebok career, a frustrating time with injuries meant the defender only started six matches for the club.

After impressing during his full debut in the 2-1 Carling Cup win against Macclesfield in August, Riley was handed his first Premier League start in the 5-0 win over Stoke City in November.

The full-back also appeared as a substitute at Old Trafford last January in Bolton's Premier League encounter against Manchester United.

"Obviously I broke through and did well and then to get setbacks with injuries and stuff like that was very disappointing," added Riley.

"Hopefully this season I've learnt from that and now I can push on and get a run of games going if I'm picked.

"I think you've just got to look to the future and stay positive. Hopefully this season I can play a lot more games."

By Alex Black

Read Time: 2 mins