JAAP Stam launched a scathing assessment of his Reading FC side following their 1-0 defeat at Preston North End.

Royals have now lost both of their Championship away fixtures this season after Saturday’s disappointing reverse at Deepdale.

Jordan Hughill’s 22nd minute strike secured all three points for Alex Neil’s hosts on a day when Stam’s men rarely looked like scoring themselves.

And to add to Reading’s injury woes they also lost midfield duo John Swift and Liam Kelly in the first half, with both unlikely to return for tomorrow night’s Carabao Cup second round clash with Millwall at Madejski Stadium (8pm ko).

Stam admitted: “We didn’t deserve to win, we were too slow, we weren’t good enough on the ball and we didn’t win second balls either.

“Preston were more aggressive, they made it very difficult for us. You saw in the first half that if you give away too many passes then they get into their strengths, they are a threat going forward.

“When we had the ball we tried to find options going forward, but if you’re not accurate then your way of playing becomes very difficult.”

Reading have now won just one of their four opening league fixtures and this Saturday they travel to Harry Redknapp’s Birmingham City who boast a similar record (3pm).

Swift is battling to recover from the hamstring strain he picked up against Preston, while Kelly could also miss out after a heavy challenge from Josh Harrop forced him off in the first half of last weekend’s defeat at Deepdale.

In addition, Joey van den Berg remains a doubt while striker Yann Kermorgant is still a few weeks away from a return following hip and groin surgery over the summer.

And Stam suggested Kelly’s injury was far from accidental.

“It is frustrating, Liam Kelly got kicked deliberately within a minute of kick-off and it was clear straight away that he would need to come off,” fumed Stam. “Their player didn’t even get a yellow card and a very important player had to come off.

“Then Swifty had to come off because of a problem with his hamstring, so already two subs are gone.

“The players who step in need to do it – but it is difficult to get back into the game, it changes everything.

“Of course, the players who come on know what they need to do, but it was very difficult in creating opportunities and going forward.”

Should van den Berg fail a fitness test later this week, recent Aston Villa signing Leandro Bacuna is likely to start in his place once again after making his debut against Preston.

Stam continued: “Leandro joined us last week, he hasn’t yet had a lot of training sessions with us, but Joey van den Berg was injured so he needed to start the game.

“He needs to get used to the team and how we want to play, but he’s a player with a lot of potential and that’s why we brought him into the club.”