Reading boss Kelly Chambers has hit back after club captain Emma Mukandi criticised the club's maternity conditions.

Appearing on COYGIG podcast, defender Mukandi claimed she had to fake injury to hide her pregnancy and was not given permission to bring her daughter to the training ground after giving birth in 2021.

On the podcast she said: "I remember when I first went back I was sitting basically in a cupboard pumping as well because I was still breastfeeding at the time. The girls were like, ‘What are you doing?’ and I’m like, ‘I have to do this.’”

The 30-year-old had more than eight months out after giving birth before returning to the side in pre-season and being awarded the captaincy.

However, boss Chambers has come out in support of the club's efforts, although admits the women's game as a whole has some improvements to make.

"I can sit here and say that we supported Emma in the best way we could," she said.

"We supported her with the contractual side of things- at the time she gave birth she had no maternity package in her contract, a standard FA contract, but it was in the process of happening with the FA and PFA.

"We worked with the PFA to try and speed up the process. With Emma, we honoured that maternity package early throughout her whole pregnancy and post that.

"People are aware the FIFA maternity policy is you should return after 14 weeks, but when it came to the 14th week Emma wasn’t ready to return to football.

"She was just a new mum not ready to do that.

"We supported her with that, with when she gave birth she should have been returning January or February time, she didn’t actually return until pre-season this season.

"We supported her and honoured a maternity package for all of the eight-and-a-half months.

"It’s hard to sit here and take that criticism when I believe we’ve really supported Emma in those moments.

"Going through that process now with Emma, I look at it and think that everything we do is a learning curve.

"The women’s game is in its infancy of maternity, and you can look at the US and they’re great at what they offer but we are where we are, it’s very new. As much as we want it to go forward as quickly as possible, it is going to take time."