Preston North End nearly snatched a late point at Reading but it is one they would have barely deserved, admits Bailey Wright.
Simon Grayson’s men were second best in the first period as John Swift’s strike from a well-worked Gareth McCleary corner gave the Royals a half-time lead.
The Lilywhites were much improved after the break, Daniel Johnson having their best chance of an equaliser before a late siege of the Reading goal in six minutes of stoppage time came to nothing.
Wright said: “We had chances but for us we were nowhere near the level we should have been at.
“If we had have come away from that game with a point, don’t get me wrong, we would have taken it – I think anyone would.
“But did we deserve it? Maybe on the second-half performance but it’s difficult to say.
“Reading played some great football and showed what the new manager’s brought in, it’s a real philosophy and they seem to have bought into it.
“It worked well for them but we know where we’ve got to do better individually and collectively to have got a result today. It’s still early doors though and we will come back stronger.”
After a disappointing opening day, one positive is that a packed schedule in the early part of the season means North End do not have to wait long to put things right.
Hartlepool are the visitors to Deepdale in the first round of the EFL Cup on Tuesday night.
Wright said: “You’ve got to look into, learn what you need to learn from it, do something about it and move on.
“Tuesday’s game will come quickly and that’s our focus, to make sure we’re as ready as we can be for that and go there to try and win.”
Grayson’s side look set to be without the Australian’s defensive partner, captain Tom Clarke however, the skipper limping off with a hamstring problem at the Madejski Stadium.
Wright said: “It’s never nice for anyone to get injured, especially the skipper.
“Hopefully it’s nothing too bad and he can get it sorted and get back out there as soon as possible. We’ll see how he recovers in the next day or so.
“I don’t think it’s too serious. Clarkey looks after himself pretty well so fingers crossed it’s not and I’m sure he’ll be back soon enough.”
Losing Clarke means the search for defensive reinforcements looks set to intensify, North End having already lost Calum Woods for the season to a serious knee injury.
Boss Grayson admitted after the match that the search for a right-back may now need to shift to someone who can also cover in the centre of the defence.
Wright said: “Losing Calum in pre-season was a blow as well.
“He’s been a good player for us and will miss out on most of the season.
“Clarkey will tell you he’s not a natural right back but he’s very good at right back.
“Obviously if he’s picked up a bit of a niggle we’ve got Chris Humphrey and Liam Grimshaw who can play there.
“We’ve got options and players that can do a job there. Are they natural right-backs? Probably not.
“But they can still do really well there.
“If we do bring someone in, who knows?”