READING FC boss Jaap Stam was coy on the prospect of defensive starlet Tom Holmes starting against Leeds United tomorrow (3pm ko) despite the teenager impressing on his debut.

The 17-year-old defender was thrust into the Dutchman's side on Tuesday despite only joining the first-team squad in training last month.

Maiden Erlegh school pupil Holmes held his own against veteran Championship striker Adam Le Fondre and helped Royals gain a point against fellow strugglers Bolton Wanderers.

The promising defender hoped he did enough to force his way into 45-year-old Stam's thoughts when the Whites visit Madejski Stadium after the manager publicly criticised his senior defenders.

But Stam suggested exposing Holmes to too much first-team action too soon could be detrimental to teenager's development.

"He's doing well and if you are doing well, why change them?" asserted Stam.

"It's the same with Omar Richards, because these youngsters don't play as many games at the same intensity, you need to give them a break and not play them in too many games in a row because it could lead to injury, as it did with Omar which is a pity.

"So I'm not going to say he's playing (against Leeds), but he did well, worked very hard, brought his physique to the game and he can play.

"We need to see how he feels and whether his body has recovered because he worked very hard."

Holmes was thrown into the side while defenders Tiago Ilori and Tyler Blackett watched the game from the bench.

Both Ilori and Blackett will be available for the clash against Leeds while Paul McShane and loanee Tommy Elphick remain sidelined.

Garath McCleary will sit out the remainder of the season while Yann Kermorgant continues to recover from a calf injury.

Leandro Bacuna missed the clash against Bolton with a small knock but could be in contention to face Leeds.

Callum Harriott and Joseph Mendes returned to action for the club's Under 23s set-up and are not ready to to be involved.

However, Stam will be boosted by John Swift's progress as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury.

Speaking about the task against Paul Heckingbottom's side, Stam concluded: "Every game is interesting, and every game you go in thinking that you can get something out of it.

“The Leeds now is a very important one – not only for us, but for them as well. Both teams will be playing to win, so we’ll need to show the same energy and more on Saturday.

“Leeds always bring a lot of people and make a lot of noise. That’s what we’ve seen when we’ve been there and when they’ve come here.

“Hopefully our fans can try and make more noise than they can, and hopefully we can do better on the pitch than them.

“You know what you’re going to get, and that’s not a problem. Hopefully the players can deal with it well and hopefully we can get a result against them.

“If we can get something out of every game, we will be happy. We want to get three points as often as we can but we know it’s not easy to do that.”