Dundee manager Paul Hartley is determined to stay as positive as possible despite his team being on a five-game losing run.
The trip to Ross County on Tuesday night saw the Dark Blues improve markedly on their performance against Aberdeen in the 7-0 defeat at Dens last Friday but still lose in the last minute to the Staggies.
That 2-1 setback in Dingwall meant they have now been beaten by Partick Thistle, St Johnstone, Celtic, the Dons and County in quick succession, a string of results that has dragged them into relegation trouble.
Nevertheless, Hartley is looking forward to Saturday’s trip to Tynecastle to face Hearts rather than dwelling on the past.
He said: “We will always look ahead.
“We can’t keep being negative about it.
“We know we are not on a good run but we can change that.
“Football can completely change and we have to start picking up points.
“This is a vital period for us.
“We have seven games to go so let’s try and get as many points on board as we can.
“It’s all about the next game against Hearts now.
“We must look forward all the time.
“There is no negativity from us here.
“As soon as the players come into work they look to me to be positive so we are all looking forward to the game on Saturday.
“The fans have every right to be disappointed and unhappy when you are not winning games but that’s not just at this club, it’s at every other one as well.
“Players have to stand up and be counted and block that (criticism from fans) out mentally.
“If you can’t hack that then you shouldn’t be playing.
“We are in a fight along with five other teams and we are not ducking out of that.
“So every point is vital.”
Hartley seemed satisfied by the manner in which his players performed up in Dingwall, coming as it did on the back of the drubbing from the Dons.
He added: “I knew I would get a reaction from them on Tuesday – it was a must.
“They did that and it was disappointing to lose such a cruel goal with the last kick of the ball.
“Had we have come back down the road with a point then we would have been happy.
“There was disappointment after the game but the reaction of the players was tremendous.
“The performance the other night was fine and we were unlucky.
“We had a couple of key decisions that didn’t go our way.”
There was good news on the injury front, with Hartley hinting that both Faissal El Bakhtaoui and Kosta Gadzhalov will be fit to face the Jam Tarts.
The Dundee boss said: “El Baktaoui and Gadzhalov both have a chance for Saturday.
“They did a bit with the physio today and will train tomorrow so we’ll see.
“That’s good news because it bolsters the squad in key positions.”
Hearts, of course, don’t have their own troubles to seek, having lost six of their last seven matches.
The latest loss came against St Johnstone on Wednesday and former Jam Tarts player Hartley is aware of the pressure his old club is under.
He said: “They have had a few poor results so we have to try to take advantage of that when we go to Tynecastle.
“It is always a difficult venue but we have to go there and, hopefully, put on a really good performance.
“We have to show that we can play and that we can match them.
“We need a plan to ensure we are always in the game.
“Also, we need to make sure we keep their crowd quiet so that it has a negative impact on the home team.
“Hearts still have good players who can hurt you.
“We are not stupid and we know Hearts can get good results.
“However, we have to be concerned about ourselves.
“We beat them here just before Christmas so we have put in big performances this season, although we maybe haven’t done it often enough.”