TYLER Blackett has become a scapegoat for Reading FC according to teammate Dave Edwards.

The former Manchester United and Celtic defender was slated by Royals fans following a disastrous display against Millwall FC on Saturday.

Blackett, who came on early in the first half to replace the injured Tommy Elphick, was booed while in possession and while trudging off of the pitch.

Boss Jaap Stam immediately leapt to the 23-year-old's defence and insisted Blackett was withdrawn for tactical reasons despite his costly error leading to Millwall's second goal.

And when asked if Blackett was being used as a scapegoat among the Reading FC faithful, Welsh midfielder Edwards replied: " Possibly, at times there's a player - I had it a lot - it's usually somebody who's been there a little bit longer.

"When new players come the fans get behind them and it's the older players who get the stick.

"I've had that a lot through my career and maybe Tyler is being used as that."

The 32-year-old added: "It's difficult for him, he's such a good footballer, he does everything right. He's one of the best professionals I've ever seen, you should see him at the training ground, he trains well and all the gym work really well.

"His confidence isn't where he wants it to be - he just seems to be the one at the moment who is getting brought on and brought off, that's the way it's going for him.

"He's a strong character and I know what a good player he is and he'll keep going.

"But it will be easier for everyone if we start winning football matches."

Blackett's first-team opportunities looked to be limited to substitute appearances following the signing of Aston Villa man Elphick on loan until the end of the season.

However, 30-year-old Elphick limped off in the 2-0 defeat against the Lions on Saturday, meaning Blackett could be back in Stam's first-team plans.

Speaking about Elphick, Edwards asserted: " t's obviously disappointing because I thought he had done really well. He came on at Burton, and he started well today.

"He's a bit of an older head, a bit of a leader which perhaps we have been missing a little bit in recent weeks.

"It's a big blow and hopefully he's not out for too long, because players like him and Chris Martin will be important for us now and get us out of this relegation fight that we're in."