PAUL Clement admitted a second successive pre-season defeat has left Reading FC ‘a little bit behind’ in their preparations for the upcoming Championship campaign.

Royals lost 4-2 at League One AFC Wimbledon on Saturday a week after crashing 2-1 at non-league Eastleigh.

The games were very much a training exercise for Clement, who changed his entire team at half time to give every player a run-out.

The Reading boss admitted: "AFC Wimbledon played very well. It was a good game, the kind of test we need at this point.

“With each game now, the tests get harder and harder, that's what you want in pre-season.

"You will start to see more players getting 60 minutes with others playing 30 minutes, then 75 and 15, and then ultimately a 90.

"Every game is an opportunity for the players to step up. There's lots of competition for places, they've got to show they're better than their colleague for their role.”

He also stressed: “Competition is healthy, it’s a good thing.

“I would say we're a little bit behind where we need to be, we've got four weeks to go - we've got to get going.

"We're going to be ready for the first game of the season, no question about it."

Reading Chronicle:

Reading boss, Paul Clement.

Ex-Reading loanee Kwesi Appiah then Joe Pigott gave Dons a 2-0 lead at the break only for Royals duo Adrian Popa and Sam Smith to level things up.

But the home side snatched victory with late goals from youngsters Egil Kaja and Kane Critchlow.

Clement argued: "I think the pattern was clear. In the first 20 minutes or so I thought we were good without being clinical.

"After a water break the energy levels went down because we trained very hard on the training pitch.

“The second-half team had that cutting edge but were fatigued in the last part so the game opened up and they had more chances.”

Reading launch the Championship season with a home clash against Frank Lampard’s Derby County on Friday, August 3 (8pm ko, live Sky Sports).

First, Clement’s men face Fulham at Aldershot Town this Saturday in another friendly fixture (1.30pm ko).

The squad then fly to Austria for a training camp next Monday before further friendlies against Besiktas in Gratz the following day then Rubin Kazan next Friday.

Clement continued: "Every training session and every game is an opportunity to learn.

“The schedule has been structured that every game is a step up in quality and competition.

"As we get towards the beginning of the season, the players will be fitter, sharper and more clued in with the tactical concepts.

"The important thing is that we're ready for the first game of the season. We absolutely want to win every game we play in, so as professionals we're disappointed. But all that will be forgotten if we win the first game of the season.”