The 51-year-old wants to bring in players on long-term deals, but accepts he may have to look more short-term to secure survival.
"We need players who have played at this level and know the league," he told reporters.
"If we can get one or two players who know the league off by heart it's good because they can hit the ground running.
"We have two or three targets and if the budget's there, it's there and we have to wait. I'm involved in that decision-making process, but it comes down to finances.
"There could be a loan, but I only like to sign loan players that we might actually buy permanently.
"I've got my eye on a couple of players, but we're still a way away. January is never an easy window to deal in."
The Royals travel to Southampton on Saturday and, after seeing his side involved in high-scoring games without success recently, McDermott is desperate for a victory.
|A ROYAL TONKING?|
|40/1||Reading are 40/1 with bet365 to beat Sunderland 3-0 at the Stadium of Light|
"The Manchester United match was great for our fans and we've had some fantastic games at Madejski Stadium with lots of goals which is really entertaining, but our fans want results as well. That's what we're in the business for.
"It's possible to take satisfaction from matching a team like Manchester United - look at the finances and budgets we're up against. But myself and the players want to win.
"In the dressing room after Manchester United we didn't say we 'well we scored three goals', we said 'we lost the game'. There was satisfaction after we beat Everton.
"I'm doing the best I possibly can every day, as are the players. The fans are staying with us, which is really important. We're trying to win games."