Shorey: 'Royals must man up'
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Laying down the law: Reading defender Nicky Shorey.
NICKY Shorey says Reading FC must 'man up' if they are to pull themselves out of the Premier League relegation places.
A fourth straight league defeat at Southampton on Saturday saw Royals slip deeper into the danger zone with over a third of the season now gone.
Brian McDermott's men are due to go to fellow strugglers Sunderland tomorrow night (7.45pm ko) then face the daunting double header of Arsenal at home next Monday (8pm ko) and then champions Manchester City away.
Perhaps the only thing more concerning than the festive fixture list is Royals' performances as of late.
At St Mary's they were a shadow of the side that won 3-1 on the south coast last April to claim top spot in the Championship.
After Jason Puncheon gave Saints the lead on the hour mark, Royals rarely threatened, and the expected onslaught in the final minutes never materialised.
A visibly disappointed Shorey acknowledged that it was 'lacklustre' and said if they are to avoid being cut adrift by Christmas they have to improve in the coming weeks.
"The performances have to be there and they haven't. Some games they have been there for a while, but then we become slack," he commented.
"It's not about who you play, it's the performance, if you get the performance right the results will come. We didn't get the performance right on Saturday.
"We have to man up and make sure the performances get to the level they need to be because they haven't been."
It was an all-too familiar tale on Saturday as Royals matched their hosts for 45 minutes before fading away after the break.
Brian McDermott's men barely registered a shot on goal in the second period and for Shorey it simply wasn't good enough.
"First half we looked like we might do something but second half, all the lads can say it wasn't a good performance," he said.
"We found it hard to get out of our half in the second half and that shouldn't have been the case. It was coming back too easy and we weren't good enough on the ball, and if you're not good enough in possession in this league you will get punished.
"We feel we can get something out of every game but not with performances like that second half. It was pretty lacklustre and they dominated us, which was pretty disappointing really."
To add to Royals' troubles, they lost defender Sean Morrison to an ankle injury on Saturday.
At the time the Midweek went to press, it was unclear how long the 21-year-old might be out for, but he joins Pavel Pogrebnyak, Jimmy Kebe, Jem Karacan and Alex McCarthy on the sidelines.
The growing injury list forced Royals manager McDermott to call up academy striker Dominic Samuel to the squad at St Mary's and he admitted it is a far from ideal situation.
"We have been really unfortunate with injuries, I am not one to moan about what we haven't got, but we have been very unfortunate with the long-term injuries," said McDermott.
"McCarthy, Morro [Morrison], Jem Karacan and Pavel are out. But that's why you have your squad."