Southampton defender Jan Bednarek believes now is the time for the players to show some bravery with their season sliding into a Premier League relegation battle.
Saints led the way in the English top flight for the first time in 32 years back in November but now find themselves just seven points outside the bottom three, with Monday night’s 1-0 loss at Everton their eighth defeat in nine league matches.
Despite the apparent cushion to 18th-placed Fulham, manager Ralph Hasenhuttl admits their form is that of relegation candidates and Bednarek, in the face of a debilitating injury list, said they had to turn that around quickly – especially given Saturday’s game is at bottom side Sheffield United.
“It’s time to step up and show our courage and our togetherness. It’s not easy, but we have to do it,” he told the club’s website.
“I think it’s not good enough. One chance and they (Everton) score one goal. We need that game of ours back.
“We have to work hard and stick together as a team, but it’s very easy to argue at the moment as it’s not going the way we want it to go, but this is life and these times will get better.”
If Saints are going to stop the rot which has brought them just one point since beating Liverpool in mid-January, the odds would surely be on them doing so against Sheffield United, a team who have won just three games all season.
Hasenhuttl may have bemoaned a run of form which has seen his side score just five times in the last nine, but Saturday’s opponents have managed just 15 in 26 league matches.
The Austrian does not want to put too much emphasis on the outcome of one match but he is aware of the importance.
“If we don’t win we are not relegated. We must pay attention to the position we are in. We have 30 points,” he said.
“It is not important what I think, it is important what the table says and with 30 points you are relegated.
“We have shown this season we can be a different side also. It is not always easy to find a way back to where we have been.
“There is hard work to do but you know us as a team, from what we have gone through in the past, you know for sure we will find a way out.
“I subbed on three academy players (at Everton) – I don’t know how many Premier League clubs do this but we have to do it because of our injuries.
“As soon as players come back we have more alternatives and better chance of being competitive.”