The Royals could actually overtake Wolves if they claim maximum points from their two matches but McCarthy, who has taken his squad to La Manga to recharge their batteries, believes becoming the hunter and not the hunted could help their cause.
"The hunger and the desire has always been there and maybe it might be there that little bit more if we get knocked off the top spot," he said on the club's official website. "We've had two defeats but it's far from over.
"You sometimes get to that stage where it's there to be achieved, you're aspiring to get into the Premier League and be promoted and it's almost within touching distance. It's not a case of fearing it but it drips away a little bit and becomes difficult.
"I've said to them in the dressing room that the best players have those periods and games where it doesn't go for them and they come out of it and start winning games. We have to find that now."