Reading were beaten 3-0 at home by fellow strugglers Wigan in their last game and McDermott is keen to avoid another damaging result against a side competing with them against the drop when they face 18th-placed Aston Villa on Saturday.
"Listen, Wigan had a really good day a couple of weeks ago at the Madejski Stadium," he said. "That's football. At this level these things can happen. So let's hope we have a great day on Saturday.
"All I know is that we are right in the mix. I remember at Christmas time we were six points adrift. I think people would have thought we would be down by now. That's definitely not the case..
"I don't think I have to go into our players on Saturday at 10 to three and say 'by the way lads, this is a really important game today'. They've probably sussed that themselves.
"They know how important it is for them, their families and for the club. It doesn't need me to reinforce that.
"Everyone is pretty sharp in our dressing room. We know what is required. It doesn't need me to reinforce that. It's clear to see."