Reading boss Jaap Stam has told his players to expect a stern test when they head to Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round of the FA Cup this Friday.
The Royals, last year’s Championship play-off finalists, are targeting an extended run in Britain’s oldest cup competition to revive their underwhelming season.
Stam’s men are 18th in the rankings, just four points above the drop zone following an eight-match winless league run.
Reading, beaten at home to Brentford last weekend, will be chasing just their second victory in 11 matches when they go head-to-head with the Owls.
Stam, an FA Cup winner as a player with Manchester United in 1999, told Reading’s club website: “We need to go over to Hillsborough and get a result and hopefully do well in the FA Cup. It won’t be easy over there.
“Sheffield Wednesday are a good side in a good stadium and they have a lot of fans – it’s a good challenge again. You want to play games and you want to win games to get a better feeling.
“It’s always nice to do well in the FA Cup.”
You have to go back to December 2 for the last time the Royals picked up maximum points in the Championship and Stam accepts they are in a battle for survival.
“We know where we are and it’s very frustrating,” he said. “Everyone needs to understand what we need to do to get out of it.
“It [the threat] is not going to go away by itself. We need to work very hard and give everything as a team and as an individual to get out of it.”
Wales international Chris Gunter is refusing to panic over their poor run of form. The defender hopes Reading’s confidence can be rebuilt with a strong cup performance.
“Regardless of results and performances, we’re always trying to improve,” he said. “We were doing that last season when we were up the top end of the league. It’s our jobs, it’s our livelihoods and we’re here every day working, trying to get results.”