JAAP Stam wants Reading FC starlet Josh Barrett to follow the footsteps of fellow academy graduates Liam Kelly and Sam Smith after warning the young midfielder to buck up his ideas.

Stam, who criticised Barrett's progress last year, said he held talks with the 19-year-old and made his expectations of a Championship-level footballer clear.

He has since seen a remarkable improvement in Barrett, who was handed is full debut by former boss Brian McDermott in March 2016.

The attacking midfielder has not made a Championship outing since McDermott was replaced by Stam, but he has been in scintillating form for Royals' Under 23s this season and was recently named on the bench against Derby County.

And Stam hopes Barrett will continue to progress and suggested fans could get a glimpse of the youngster before long.

"I'm not going to say that he's definitely going to play but if he keeps on doing what he's doing [then he has a chance]," he told the Reading Chronicle.

"I had a conversation with Josh and I told him what I want him to do.

"There is no doubt that he has ability and he can change games and score goals.

"He is quality on the ball too but it's not only about that, there are other things too that you need to do in football, especially in the Championship.

"He agreed with me, he gave his own opinion and then he really stepped up."

Barrett made his Royals debut in March 2016, coming on as a late substitute for Chris Gunter in a 3-1 defeat against Huddersfield Town.

He impressed towards the end of the season when McDermott handed him his first league start.

Barrett did not feature in the league at all last season but Stam hopes to reward the teenager for his hard work with some game time in the coming months.

He continued: "You've seen it happen with Omar Richards, Sam Smith and Liam Kelly last season.

"Other players from the Under 23s are knocking on that door as well.

"Last year certain players needed to step-up to what we expect from them at this level.

"Josh has done very well with the Under 23s and he has been joining in with the first-team squad too.

"He is certainly working on what he needs to do and on what we expect from him."

Reading host Championship leaders Wolves at Madejski Stadium tomorrow (3pm ko).