TYLER Blackett admits Reading FC will have to fight harder than their relegation rivals to stay in the Championship.

Royals are one point above the drop zone after last weekend’s 0-0 draw at Stoke City with eight remaining fixtures – three of them against teams from the top six in Norwich City, West Brom and Middlesbrough.

Boss Jose Gomes is also nursing a number of injuries with influential striker, Nelson Oliveira, battling to recover from a hamstring problem before the end of the campaign.

And Blackett knows exactly what is needed from Reading when they return from a fortnight’s international break with a crucial home clash with Preston North End on March 30.

“The games are probably not as much about the football now as the fight,” declared the 24-year-old defender. “We’ve got to have that side to us.

“We’re showing we’re trying to do that in every game now so hopefully the results will take care of themselves.

“We’ll be training hard in the international break, keeping our focus on getting ready for the next group of games.

“A weekend off won’t totally take your mind off it, but it’s just giving us a rest which we need, time to refocus and be ready. It will be about recovering and focussing on each game as it comes.”

Royals showed plenty of grit and determination to return from Stoke City with a point last weekend.

“It was difficult,” Blackett added. “They got a few chances in the first half, hit the post a couple of times, but we weathered the storm and pulled through.

“I thought we could have nicked it, but obviously it wasn’t to be in the end though a clean sheet is always good. We just tried to do what we could, but it wasn’t to be on the day.”

Meanwhile, Reading’s head of Academy player development, Lewis Goater, has moved to Arsenal.

Goater spent 11 years with Royals but switched to the Emirates where ex-Reading Academy manager, Lee Herron, is now football operations manager.