MIDDLESBROUGH manager Tony Mowbray is refusing to press the panic button but admits his struggling side desperately need three points against Derby County tonight.
The Reds were thumped 5-2 at Reading on Saturday and are now just three points clear of third-bottom Scunthorpe United, who kept alive their survival hopes with a 1-0 win over Swansea City.
In equally dire straits are tonight’s visitors Derby who have won just twice in the Championship since November and lie just three points and two places ahead of the Teessiders.
And Mowbray said: “We are fully aware of where we are.
“We have got to get some wins and we need three points against Derby.
“The team know there is inconsistency in their performances.
“We won 4-0 at Bristol City and won well at Millwall, while last Tuesday (1-1 draw with Nottingham Forest) should give us confidence, so we will put Saturday behind us.
“We have to find the same intensity and drive we displayed against Forest.”
Mowbray has, at least, guided Boro clear of the drop zone since his arrival at the Riverside in late October.
And that’s an improvement the former favourite is keen to point out.
“It’s not the crisis it was when we were adrift of safety, so let’s keep things in perspective,” he added.
“There are 12 games left and every game is massive and Tuesday is no more massive than any others.”
Boro go into tonight’s game on the back of that heavy defeat in Berkshire, a game which saw teenage stopper Connor Ripley, son of former winger Stuart, thrown his senior debut following a first-half injury to Jason Steele.
And Mowbray, who is now looking to draft in a goalkeeper on emergency loan, said: “Saturday was tough.
“We went there in confident mood after being full of intensity and drive against Nottingham Forest, who are one of the best teams in this division.
“Credit to Reading, they played with a lot of intensity, but the goals we conceded were mainly self-inflicted. There was some poor decision-making.
“We started poorly, right from the first five minutes, and never got much better. Ultimately, we got what we deserved – nothing.”