Paul McGowan has warned his fellow Dundee players they are already fighting for their futures.
It may only be early November but McGowan has issued a stark warning that the season will run away from the Dark Blues unless they do something about it.
The Premiership’s bottom club have lost 12 goals and scored none in their last three matches under new boss Jim McIntyre so the hope is that the recovery will finally kick off at Fir Park today against Motherwell.
The midfielder, who could earn a place on the bench against the Steelmen after having injections for a groin injury, is known as a straight talker and he didn’t disappoint.
He said: “It is going to take characters to get out of this and it will test people.
“We have to start climbing the table because before you know it you get games where you think: ‘If we lose this then we are either in a play-off or a relegation situation.’
“I had a senior player tell me when I was a young lad that your career goes by you like that. When you are a young boy you wonder what they are talking about but, trust me, I can see it now.
“Games just come so quickly and before you know it you are into February or March. You are then left wondering where the season has gone.
“So if somebody in that dressing room doesn’t realise we are playing for our livelihoods and careers then they shouldn’t be here.
“There should be no one in there naive enough to believe their job is safe.
“We are sitting bottom of the table having won only one game so everybody’s jobs are on the line.
“The table doesn’t lie.
“Relegation can also affect the full club, with cuts right through to the kitchen staff.
“Touch wood, I have never been part of one (a relegation) and I hope I never am.
“I also believe the group we have is strong enough to get out of this situation but those are only words from me.
“You can keep saying that you have all the ability or whatever but you also have to have the b**** to get yourself out of trouble.
“It will test our character because teams are sensing that we are a bit weak and vulnerable just now,” he added.
“There is no one in that dressing room who can be happy with what they have put in this season.
“I am trying to think off the top of my head here…nope, nobody.
“That is me being brutally honest but if anyone thinks they have done OK then that’s fair enough.
“It’s about opinions but if that’s the case then maybe they should have a hard look at themselves in the mirror. I include myself in that.”
McGowan admitted it hasn’t made for pleasant viewing for him as he recovered.
“It has been tough,” he said.
“I will always say it as it is and ultimately it lies with the players.
“The manager picks the team and he takes the flak but we have to do much better.
“We are shooting ourselves in the foot at the moment and being punished for every mistake.
“The league is unforgiving.
“Luckily, not every team has gone right away from us – I’m speaking about St Mirren and Hamilton.
“Motherwell away is difficult and if you are not ready for a battle then they will steamroller you.
“My God, it will be a tough game against Motherwell but I am looking forward to seeing how we react after that Celtic game.”
Dundee, of course, lost 5-0 on Wednesday to the Hoops and it could have been a lot worse.
McIntyre mentioned post-match there was a “haemorrhaging” of confidence and McGowan stressed that they have to get that belief back today.
“Listen, if you are not winning games it then does make you low on confidence,” he said.
“The heads go down.
“That shouldn’t be the case but it is only human nature that happens.
“We have to regroup though.
“The manager has come in and he has upped the tempo of training and has been getting after people.
“He has come in and seen how it is. He will also tell you how it is.
“If he is not going to be happy with you then there is only one place you are going and that is out the front door.
“If you don’t buy into what he wants then it will be goodbye.”
As for himself, McGowan is hoping that he has finally put his injury woe behind him.
He said: “I had a groin operation at the end of last season on a double hernia and it’s just not been right.
“I came back and tried to catch up with everything but I’ve not been happy with it.
“It just hasn’t felt right since I got the op.
“So I took the decision to get an injection but I still felt it so I got another injection and that’s helped so much.
“I have now had a full week’s training – a lot of fitness work – and I’m feeling much better.
“I am eager to get back. I think I can probably make the bench for Motherwell and then be ready to go the following week.”