CROCKED winger Garath McCleary is appealing to Reading FC fans to back their struggling team over the vital Championship run-in.

The 30-year-old has been ruled out for the rest of the season after breaking his ankle in the first minute of last week’s 3-1 home defeat by Sheffield United.

McCleary does not require an operation, but his absence leaves boss Jaap Stam short of options out wide following the January departure of Adrian Popa and Roy Beerens.

Now McCleary wants fans to play a major role in helping Stam's men secure their Championship status starting with Saturday's home clash with Leeds United (3pm ko).

"So I've unfortunately broken my ankle and will be ruled out for the remainder of the campaign," said McCleary on social media.

"After hearing the pop I stupidly tried to jog it off, maybe from adrenaline and thre thought 'not another setback'.

"This season for me has been very stop-start and disappointing/frustrating with injuries, rehab and other factors. As always I will be doing my utmost to be stronger, fit and ready.

"Backing the boys is a must and I will every step of the way. I have a strong belief in the staff and squad to turn our fortunes around.

"I'm hoping you fans feel the exact same and, even if not, will still generate the positive aura/atmosphere that we need.

"Thanks also to the wellwishers and for all the messages I've received."

McCleary, who has made only 15 league appearances this season, signs off with: "#ReadingFC #Urzzz #BackTheBoys #ThroughTheGoodAndBad".

Reading Chronicle:

Garath McCleary is treated on the pitch against Sheffield United.

Reading have picked up only one win from their last 15 Championship matches after an alarming dip in form that has resulted in a huge drop in recent attendance levels. 

Tuesday night's 1-1 home draw with Phil Parkinson's fellow strugglers, Bolton, saw both clubs increase their lead over the relegation zone to five points.

But Stam's men have not won at home on a Saturday since April 2017 and they will need to show a big improvement this weekend to topple mid-table Leeds.

And Royals' boss will have to do it without another specialist wide player as McCleary begins his recovery.

"Garath is out for the season," explained the Dutchman. "He doesn't need surgery so hopefully he'll be back for pre-season.

"It was a tackle on his ankle so that's another one out for a long time. You can't say we are lucky with all these injuries.

"Also, we don't have many choices with wingers. Popa and Beerens left but no wingers came in, so you don't have a lot of choice to be honest."

McCleary’s injury has had a major knock-on effect for the Royals, with Omar Richards, 20 also facing a spell on the sidelines with a calf injury.

"Two minutes in against Sheffield United, Garath breaks his ankle,” continued Stam. “We needed to make a change, Omar needed to come in when we were planning on resting him.

"So he plays three games in a row and seven days. They were three high-intensity games, a lot of workrate, so maybe he's still tired then one little sprint and a muscle goes in his calf and he's out.

“It’s a real shame because everybody wants to see Omar play."

Stam is already missing a host of injured players including Yann Kermorgant, Paul McShane, Jordan Obita and Stephen Quinn.

Callum Harriott and Joseph Mendes both played for the Under 23s this week but are not yet in contention for the first team.

Leandro Bacuna could return to face Leeds United after missing the Bolton game with a slight knock.

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