Reading manager Veljko Paunovic has blamed his side's lack of fitness due to injuries and the recent Covid outbreak at the club for his side's late capitulation to Derby.

A suerb brace from Junior Hoilett had given Reading a 2-0 lead heading into the closing stages but goals from Colin Kazim-Richards and Curtis Davies ensured the game ended 2-2 costing the Royals a crucial two points in the relegation battle.

Explaining the late collpase, Paunovic said: "We had a fantastic 60 mins and executed our game plan. It's probably the best first half we had in a long time. 

"From that moment, we started to lose our fitness because of the circumstances sover the last three weeks. 

"The first goal hit us hard and we kept going back and giving away the ball and couldn’t recompose. It's not good to see that but it's comprehensible given the circumstances.

"I contributed this one to the fitness levels. We couldn't cope with the last minutes of the game. There is a part of the mentality I didn't like, not only in this game and that has been addressed. We have enough experience and quality to manage better those last minutes.

"In some moments we didn’t manage the game well with the ball. It's because of the lack of fitness. We still have players who are recovering from symptoms. We’ve only trained two or three times with certain players this week."

While the reasons Paunovic provides are valid, patience is waering thin from Reading fans who are frustrated at seeing their side continue to throw away points as they march deeper into a relegation battle. 

Paunovic and his side travel to the Midlands this weekend to face Kidderminster Harriers in the third round of the FA Cup.