LEWIS Baker is confident the ‘unity’ in the Reading FC dressing room will carry them to Championship safety as they prepare for a huge clash at Stoke City this Saturday (3pm ko), writes Anthony Smith.

Relegation-threatened Royals endured a comprehensive 3-0 home defeat to title-chasing Leeds United on Tuesday night, having beaten Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic in their previous two fixtures.

Jose Gomes’ men are still hovering around the drop zone in 19th place with nine matches to go – four of them against teams in the top six – ahead of the weekend’s trip to Britannia Stadium to face 17th-placed Potters.

On-loan Chelsea midfielder Baker declared: “Saturday is a massive one and we’re fully determined. We know we can play much better than we did against Leeds.

“We can’t get too down about it, we had a lot of positive moments before Tuesday night so we carry on going.

“We’ve shown a lot of fight and determination in recent games. If we keep bringing that into these next games we will be fine.

“The main thing is the unity we have in this team, we are all close together and we will carry on fighting.”

Royals went into the Leeds clash after securing consecutive wins for the first time in 15 months with victories against Ipswich Town and Wigan.

But Gomes’ injury-hit team were outclassed by Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds on Tuesday.

Baker, who started the season on loan at Leeds, admitted: “It wasn’t a great night but credit to Leeds who are a top team. We started the game well so it was disappointing to let them get three goals before half time. From there we knew it would be hard to get back.

“We showed a bit of resilience in the second half and managed to stop them scoring again, but we didn’t get the result. It was disappointing but credit to Leeds.”

Baker, though, denied Reading showed Leeds too much respect: “I don’t think so, all the boys were up for it,” he stressed. “Leeds are a top side and some of the goals they scored were class. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up.

“They’re one of the benchmarks in the division. Everyone has seen them a lot this season and know what they’re capable of.

“They showed what they’re about in the first half. It wasn’t quite enough from us but we will go into the Stoke game in high spirits.

"We’ve only lost two of the last nine games now so we’re building something here. Now we go to Stoke on Saturday before an international break with a lot of determination.”

Reading were missing strikers Nelson Oliveira, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Sam Baldock on Tuesday night as well as midfielders Andy Rinomhota, Ovie Ejaria, Saeid Ezatolahi and defenders Tom McIntyre and Jordan Obita.

It is unlikely any will be fit for the Stoke City clash, leaving Gomes’ squad stretched to the limit.

“We’ve got some really important players out at the moment, added Baker. “But we’ve also got enough quality in the squad to have good games. I won’t use that as an excuse.”

Despite the pressure on his squad, Gomes suggests Reading will be going all out for three points this weekend.

“We will fight like all the games,” said the Portuguese boss. “It is difficult for me to start a game thinking a draw is enough. Maybe I am being stupid, but I cannot damage the football. We must try to win.

"We are near the bottom of the table. We have now one game less and we must prepare and give confidence to the players and the motivation to be ready for the next game.”