Akpan pleads with Reading FC fans to back the team
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Hope for the best: Reading FC midfielder Hope Akpan wants Royals supporters to stay right behind the team during the Aston Villa clash.
HOPE Akpan is calling on loyal Royals to help pull the team through their
Reading are preparing for a massive basement battle against Aston Villa at Madejski Stadium tomorrow (3pm ko).
And Royals supporters everywhere will be hoping for a better outcome than their last home fixture, a 3-0 defeat against fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic.
Reading were booed off the pitch at the full-time whistle after their humbling by Roberto Martinez's men and fans appear to be losing faith in the team's ability to avoid the drop.
But midfield ace Akpan knows how important it is to keep them on their side for the last 10 games of the season.
Speaking exclusively to the Reading Chronicle, he said: \"It's a big game, all the games against the teams around us are going to be big from here on.
\"There are a few coming up at home so the emphasis will be on us going out there trying to win the game. That's what we will try and do.
\"Villa, QPR and Southampton have to come to our place and if we win those three games alone we will have a much greater chance of staying up.
\"We need the fans to get right behind us and hopefully we can put in the performances we need and pick up enough points.
\"We were signing autographs at the Madejski Stadium on Monday and the fans were absolutely brilliant.
\"The feeling is the fans are behind us and that's what we need from here on. We need everyone to be together and for the fans to help pull us through.
\"There are still 30 more points to play for so who is to say we can't stay in this league?\"
Royals slumped to their third consecutive Premier League loss with a 3-1 reverse at Everton on Saturday.
They now go into this weekend's clash sitting 19th in the table, one point behind Villa in 18th.
But while critics have been quick to write off Reading's chances, Akpan firmly believes they can fight their way out of trouble.
\"The table is still very tight,\" stressed the 21-year-old Crawley Town signing. \"We had a good January but we didn't pick up many points in February.
\"Saying that, we showed signs at Everton that we are a good team. We created quite a few chances but the timing of their goals was bad.
\"Everton took their chances and we didn't, but we showed some positive signs. Now this weekend we're confident we can get three points against Villa.\"
Akpan, a former Everton trainee, even suggests Royals can play with a certain degree of freedom this weekend as Villa are under greater pressure to stay up.
\"All the teams around us in the table are under pressure to stay in the Premier League, so we can't use pressure as an excuse,\" he admitted.
\"Villa are a massive club. Nobody expects them to go down so maybe there is more pressure on them from now on.
\"We've just got to go out there, look to win the points every game and take it from there.\"
SEE THE READING CHRONICLE WEBSITE FOR LIVE COVERAGE OF READING VERSUS ASTON VILLA
This article appeared in Bracknell News 08 Mar 13