MIDFIELD enforcer Mikele Leigertwood has urged his Reading team-mates to stand up and be counted when they host high-flying Middlesbrough on Saturday (3pm ko).

Royals' patchy start to the season has meant fans at the Madejski have had little to shout about, with just one win coming from the first four Championship home matches.

And Reading are sure to be tested on their own turf again this weekend by a Boro side who have won every game on the road this season.

Leigertwood admits that Tony Mowbray's men will provide stiff opposition but insists Royals go into the game full of confidence and looking to lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

"We want to show teams that we're no walkover on our own turf," he told the Chronicle. "We're at home, there should be a big crowd and we need to show them what we're about.

"Boro have got a similar squad to last season which goes to show what a bit of continuity can do to a team but we'll go into the game in confident mood on the back of Tuesday night."

The stunning come-from-behind win at Bristol City helped lift Royals further clear of the foot of the table and also stretched their unbeaten run to three matches.

Should that record extend to four games after the weekend, Reading then face tough clashes with Burnley, Derby County and Southampton, and Leigertwood insists hard work will be the key to success.

"We will only get better if we keep working harder. We have proven that to be the case in the last few games when we have out-worked opposition teams," he commented.

"I don't just mean the 11 players who start but the whole squad. Hal Robson-Kanu and Mathieu Manset changed the game when they came off the bench on Tuesday night and that has got to be good for everyone."

While the win over Bristol will no doubt raise morale in the camp, so too will the fact Reading won without being at their best.

Brian McDermott's side showed battling qualities to fight back from two goals down and Leigertwood praised the spirit shown by the visitors at Ashton Gate.

"You've got to be happy when you come from 2-0 down to win. We weren't up to scratch for the majority of the game but we dug in and somehow pulled it off," he said.

"We showed a never-say-die attitude and deserved to win. Their second goal was a kick in the teeth but we stuck to our task, got in behind them and worked their back four much harder."

Jobi McAnuff, Adam Le Fondre and Manset were the eventual match-winners for Reading and, with Simon Church also on a hot run of form, Royals' attacking options are looking much brighter than they were a month ago.

"Alfie has scored two and set up a couple and Simon Church has been scoring as well. Then Mathieu has come off the bench to score some important goals already this season," said Leigertwood.

"So if we can defend well and keep the ball out of our own net we will be fine."

"We didn't have a good start to the season but things are looking up now.

"We're trying to give ourselves the best chance and if we can hit a bit of form and keep that going you never know what can happen."

Following their clash with Boro this weekend, Reading are not at home again until October 18 when they host high-flying Derby County.

Southampton are the visitors to the Madejski the following Saturday and Royals then face two away trips to Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest.