The Royals fell behind in the 10th minute to Harry Bunn's header and never recovered as second half goals from Nakhi Wells and Ishmael Miller condemned Reading to a 3-0 defeat.

Oliver Norwood, Hope Akpan, Garath McCleary, Yakubu, Jake Taylor and Danny Guthrie came in, with the front six from Saturday's win at Ipswich all left out.

The mass changes came as a surprise to Reading fans but Clarke explained he had no option but to rotate heavily and was left with no regrets despite the result.

“You can't have regrets,” he said. “You have to make decisions and go with them. I just felt in the middle of this run of horrendous fixtures it was a chance to give a few that have been playing game after game a little breather.

“People have to be reasonable about the fact we had to make changes. We had to pick games to make changes for.

“The run we're in is incredible and at some stage if you keep using the same players then they'll break down.

“I thought tonight was the night to make those changes.”

It was a lacklustre display from Reading and although Clarke was left disappointed, he believes the changes had nothing to do with the defeat.

“The result is disappointing,” he added. “The start was slow. We gave a poor goal away from a set piece but I thought we got back in the game and played some great stuff.

“Second half we were battling and looking to get back on level terms but then Adam makes a rare mistake and it's a different game.

“You saw in the first half that the players I put on the pitch were good enough to get a result.”