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The January signing from Crawley Town believes that his side can avoid the drop, as he prepares to make an emotional return to Goodison Park to face his boyhood club Everton

Reading midfielder Hope Akpan is in no doubt that his side can avoid relegation this year, despite the club currently sitting just one point from safety.

Saturday's 3-0 home defeat to relegation rivals Wigan saw them slip into 19th place, but the 21-year-old is refusing to be disheartened.

"We can stay up, 100 per cent," Akpan told BBC Radio Berkshire. "We still have that belief.

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"Any loss like that is tough to take. Obviously with the position we are in and the position Wigan are in it was even tougher to take. We just need to use that pain to help us get the points we need to stay up.

"It is very tight, there are a lot of games left to play and a lot of points to play for and we need to go into the game with the belief we can win it. We still have that belief."

Next up for the Royals is a trip to Everton, where Akpan will make his first return as an opposition player to the ground he called home for over a decade.

The Childwall native admitted that it will be an emotional occasion, but insists that he is fully focused on putting in a performance for his current employers.

"It's going to be an exciting game for me," he admitted.

"First and foremost I am a Reading player and that is my main focus. I'm happy to be going back to Goodison Park and am super excited. I was there since I was eight and I had a lot of experiences there but you have to live in the moment."

Meanwhile, Reading manager Brian McDermott is refusing to set a points target for survival, choosing instead to take each game as it comes.

"I don't have expectations, I just do my job," the boss explained.

"My expectations are to do the best. I didn't think where we would or wouldn't be. I deal with the moment."

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