NEWPORT’S Chris Gunter is ready for another crack at promotion to the Premier League after signing a new three-year contract to stay at Reading.

Wales international Gunter is gearing up for his sixth season at Madejski Stadium and he believes the Royals can mount another serious challenge at the top of the Championship.

Reading went agonizingly close to promotion last season, losing on penalties to Huddersfield Town in the play-off final at Wembley.

And Gunter, who was linked with moves to Middlesbrough, Leeds United and Aston Villa, is optimistic about the new campaign after manager Jaap Stam also committed his future to Reading.

“In the last year, things have changed at the club – and that’s purely down to the manager and his staff,” said the 27-year-old, who lined up for Wales in the Euro 2016 semi-final against Portugal a year ago tomorrow.

“He was a big reason why it was such an easy decision for me to stay.

“What he’s done for this club in 12 months is hard to put into words really. He’s made a massive impact. And, as a player, he is somebody you want to play for. I couldn’t have any more respect for him.

“And hopefully this season can be just as good as the last one under him…but with a slightly different ending!”

Memories of Wembley heartache will take a while to fade but Gunter is looking forward rather than back.

“The end of last season…you can’t get worse in football,” he added.

“We all know how it ended and it was tough period after the final – a case of just getting through a period of time when you know it’s going to hurt.

“But it’s amazing how as a footballer, you’re programmed to quite quickly turn things into a positive and suddenly those good thoughts come back and before you know it you’re back in pre-season training and looking ahead to another campaign, another big challenge.

“If we can match or better what we did last season, with the improvement that we’ll have being 12 months down the line with this manager, there’s no reason why we can’t have another successful season.

“We know it’s going to be tough, we can’t think that because we finished third in the league and we got to the final that now we’re better than most teams in this division. The attitude has to be exactly the same.

“We’ll be treated and seen differently by other teams in the league, which will make life harder, but it’s important to keep the aims realistic.

“And as long as we give everything can, we now know how far that can take us.”