Middlesbrough midfielder Adam Clayton: You have to keep believing
Adam Clayton firmly believes Middlesbrough are not one of the three worst teams in the Premier League as they battle for their top-flight lives.
The table after Monday night's 2-1 home defeat by Arsenal made for difficult reading on Teesside with Boro lying in 19th place, six points adrift of Hull in 17th with six games remaining and without a league win since December 17.
However, as he turns his attention to the latest in a series of must-win games at Bournemouth on Saturday, 28-year-old midfielder Clayton is refusing to accept the seemingly inevitable.
He said: "If you asked the other teams 'Are Middlesbrough one of the three worst teams in the league?', I don't suppose many would say we are.
"We've played against teams and we have been in most games and have been pipped by that extra bit of quality that we need to have.
"There are more points to play for and nobody in the bottom three is pulling up trees and running clear. Three points in this league is like six in the Championship. You have to keep believing.
"You have to keep going and it is hard to keep coming out when we have been pipped. We have to keep believing and keep the chin up. This is the toughest league there is, but we will keep grafting.
"The gap hasn't been getting any bigger, but now we are getting to the stage where we need to win. If we don't, it will be goodnight. We need to get a win as soon as possible and change the face of it."
Things might have changed significantly had Boro enjoyed the stroke of good fortune against the Gunners which has eluded them for much of the campaign to date.
Level at 1-1 after Alvaro Negredo had cancelled out Alexis Sanchez's first-half free-kick, central defender Daniel Ayala saw goalkeeper Petr Cech turn away his 61st-minute header from point-blank range, setting the stage for Mesut Ozil to clinch victory for the visitors.
Clayton said: "It is difficult to come out of games like that. We have to come out on the right side in the next few games. One win will change it all.
"There were a few chances that could have gone in. But we will not go down because we have been unlucky, we will go down because we haven't been good enough - if we do. That's the story.
"We have to make our own luck."