READING FC boss Paul Clement bemoaned his side's recent lack of fighting spirit, admitting supporters were right to question his team's desire.

Royals conceded seven goals and scored none last week following drubbings by Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town.

Supporters called the team's spirit into question and chants of "you're not fit to wear the shirt" echoed around the concourse last Saturday afternoon.

And when asked if his side were putting up enough of a fight, Clement replied: "I think it's a valid question. I would look at the last two games and if I had seen that in another two or three games it would be a massive concern.

"But I saw it against Sunderland. I saw them fight right until the very end and they collapsed when the final whistle sounded.

"They had given everything, I saw it against QPR and Preston.

"But yeah, it was lacking in the other two games. Why that is, I don't think you can turn to the players and say you've given up and don't care.

"There are other factors involved in terms of physical conditioning and mental conditioning.

"Confidence has been rocked in the past few games but we have one game to go and we have to move forward."

The 47-year-old took over at Reading with just eight games of the season remaining.

Royals had been on a landslide under former boss Jaap Stam and had only picked up one win in 18 games.

Clement picked up wins against Queens Park Rangers and Preston but other results see them threatened with relegation.

In fact, Clement needs a draw against Cardiff City on Sunday's televised match (12.30pm ko, live on Sky), to ensure safety.

And the former Swansea City and Derby County boss insisted he was under no illusion about how difficult his task of keeping Reading in the Championship would be.

"This is a difficult job," asserted Clement.

"I came in with only eight games left and the team were on the slide, they were only three points above the relegation zone.

"It wasn't a team that had started picking up, they were very much on the slide.

"We've seen some good in the last six or seven games but we've seen some bad as well.

"Those are things to address going forward."

Clement's Royals will be in for a physical afternoon when they face Neil Warnock's Bluebirds at Cardiff City Stadium.

But the 47-year-old insisted his players know what they are up against.

"It's very difficult to stop that aerial threat," he concluded.

"Even when the ball goes out it comes back with a long throw or a wide free-kick.

"But we have to try and exploit the spaces they leave. I believe they do leave some so it's all about finding them."

"We have to try and win the game.

"If you're going to lose then you have to do it going down fighting."