JAAP Stam accepts it is his job to lift the Reading FC players over the coming weeks as they look to secure their Championship status.

Royals have picked up just one win from their last 14 matches to leave them four points off the drop zone.

Stam’s men faced a daunting challenge on Saturday when they were due to travel to leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers – only for the match to be postponed due to snow in the Midlands.

Reading are now preparing for a massive six-pointer against Phil Parkinson’s fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers at Madejski Stadium tomorrow night (8pm ko) before another home game against Leeds United this Saturday (3pm ko).

Bolton, who lost 3-1 at home to Preston on Saturday, are level on points with Royals, but one place below in 19th position, with Stam’s men ahead on goal difference and with one game in hand.

And Stam, whose side lost 3-1 at home to play-off chasing Sheffield United last time out, admitted he must keep confidence high in the dressing room during this testing period.

"It's not the easiest of times, it's true,” said the Dutchman. "We always try and be positive.

“The first half against Sheffield wasn't good enough, but even then you can still be positive about certain things the players did.

"From these things I find positivity as well.”

However, he also stressed: "Of course there is disappointment for everybody including the fans.

"We need to try and lift the team and hopefully the players think about it and talk about what they could have done better.

"We'll show them what they did well do hopefully they do better in the next game."

Reading Chronicle:

Reading keeper Vito Mannone picks the ball out of the net during his side's 3-1 defeat to Sheffield United.

Reading’s defeat to Sheffield United was their 16th of the campaign and they have won just three times in the league at Madejski Stadium this season.

Billy Sharp and Mark Duffy put the Blades 2-0 up, but Omar Richards pulled one back then Leandro Bacuna missed the chance to equalise when his penalty was saved.

However, Sharp’s second of the game secured the victory for the visitors to leave Reading’s perilously close to the relegation zone.

The injuries are mounting up for Stam with Garath McCleary sidelined for several weeks with an ankle injury he suffered against Sheffield United.

Mo Barrow (ankle) is also struggling for fitness, while Yann Kermorgant is out for at least another two games and Paul McShane, Jordan Obita, Callum Harriott, Joseph Mendes and Stephen Quinn are long-term injuries.

However, John Swift and Sone Aluko could be involved in Tuesday night’s clash against the Trotters.

Reading are planning to ease Swift in gently following another hamstring injury, while Aluko has recovered from a bout of illness.

Stam confirmed he has to be patient over Swift, saying: "I spoke to the medical staff at the last game against Derby when he came on.

“It was already planned that he wouldn't play against Sheffield United because there wasn't enough time between the games for his hamstring to settle down.

"It's always a danger and I was thinking that maybe he could play a half, but the medical staff know what's best for him long term."

Stam added: "We'll look at him and hopefully he'll be available soon."

Reading Chronicle:

Garath McCleary is treated for an ankle injury.