READING FC boss Jaap Stam described tonight’s clash at basement boys Burton Albion as a ‘very, very big game’ in the battle for the Championship survival (7.45pm ko).

Royals are just four point above the drop zone after a worry slump that has delivered no wins in their last eight league matches and no goals in the last three.

Confidence took another battering last Friday when Stam’s men crashed out of the FA Cup with a 3-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in the fourth round.

It means Royals have tasted just one victory in their last 11 games in all competitions and have lost six along the way including a shock 2-1 home defeat to Nigel Clough’s Brewers in late December.

Reading Chronicle:

Burton Albion celebrate during their 2-1 win at Madejski Stadium in December.

Despite that result, Burton remain rooted to the bottom of the table, though a win tonight could see them climb out of the bottom three as only five points separate the bottom seven teams including Reading in 18th position.

Stam, who looks set to hand new loan signing Tommy Elphick his debut at Pirelli Stadium, declared: “Tuesday is the biggest thing for us in the league now.

“We need the points but it’s not going to be easy over there on their pitch with the way they set up and in front of their own fans.

“It’s a very, very big game.”

Recent performances and results have done little to ease the pressure on Stam after an alarming slide down the Championship table.

But Royals’ boss insists he still has the backing of Chinese owners Dai Yongge and sister Dai Xiu Li and the board.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading FC boss Jaap Stam.

“I’ve spoken to the owners and they are calm,” he explained. “They know what we need to do, we’ve spoken about it many times.

“Hopefully we can go into that game on Tuesday and do well for the team. I am not thinking about myself.

“I know how people think when you are not winning a lot of games and that’s how it goes.

“There have been a lot of rumours on social media, but it’s better to go right to the source so you know how it is from very close range.”

Reading will be without the services of skipper Paul McShane, John Swift and Omar Richards all with hamstring injuries.

Clough is sweating over the fitness of defenders Kyle McFadzean and Ben Turner, while striker Liam Boyce has been ruled out with a knee injury.

Tonight’s Championship fixtures: Birmingham v Sunderland; Burton v Reading; Hull v Leeds, Middlesbrough v Sheff Wed, Millwall v Derby, Nottingham Forest v Preston, Sheff Utd v Aston Villa.