CHRIS Gunter is determined to lead Reading FC to Championship safety – and deny his beloved Cardiff City automatic promotion.

Royals must avoid defeat at Cardiff City Stadium in Sunday’s televised match (12.30pm ko, live Sky Sports) to remain in control of their own destiny.

If Paul Clement’s men suffer defeat in South Wales they will be relying on the results of Birmingham City, Barnsley and Burton Albion to save them from the drop into League One.

And Gunter, who is a massive Bluebirds fan, has issued a rallying call ahead of the clash against Neil Warnock’s side as Reading look to bounce back from last weekend’s woeful 4-0 defeat to Ipswich Town.

“It felt like we got hit by sucker punches,” fumed Gunter, after Royals shipped all four goals in a disastrous 20-minute spell.

“As professionals, we have to take everything on the chin and go away, come back and prepare for a massive game on Sunday.

“Having been at this club for a long time, I know there are some really good people around, not just us on the pitch.

“We’re the face of it and we need to do it for them and for the fans. Getting relegated to League One would be nowhere near good enough.

“It’s a huge week for us. It’s one of the biggest of our lives and we owe it to the people that work in the football club and the ones that support us that we do everything absolutely right.

“We need to turn up on Sunday and however we do it – we need to get a result and make it just a bad season and not a completely disastrous one.”

Reading Chronicle:

Reading boss Paul Clement.

Gunter joined Cardiff’s youth ranks when he eight years old and has supported them all his life.

He made 28 first-team appearances before a big move to Tottenham in 2008 and remains a huge fan.

But the 28-year-old, now Wales’ most capped outfield player, will put his personal allegiance to one side for this weekend’s sell-out clash for which Reading have sold their full 2,106 ticket allocation.

Warnock’s men need to win to finish second in the table and stay ahead of Fulham.

The Cottagers will be desperate to beat Birmingham to maintain the pressure, and a victory at St Andrew’s would be enough to keep Reading up.

Barnsley and Burton also face tough fixtures away to sixth-placed Derby and seventh-placed Preston respectively, with both of those opponents fighting for the last play-off spot.

Gunter added: “We let the manager down last weekend, we let everyone down. But it’s our job to take it on the chin.

“If you come out and try and put a positive spin on it then people will say you’re trying to gloss over it and you don’t understand the situation.

“If you’re very negative people will say you have to pick yourselves up.

“We have to accept the feeling we have and once we get back on the pitch – it’s still in our hands.”

Reading Chronicle:

Cardiff manager, Neil Warnock.

He added: “However difficult a game it is, we have to make sure it’s the same for Cardiff as well.

“We have to turn up for everyone. It’s hard to put into words, whatever you say after the Ipswich performance is immaterial.

“As players we know it was nowhere near good enough. That’s not to say that we don’t deserve to be told.”

Leandro Bacuna is available after serving a three-match ban, though Omar Richards is out after picking up an injury against Ipswich.

Tyler Blackett remains suspended while Paul McShane, Callum Harriott, Garath McCleary and Jordan Obita will all miss out through injury.