Dean Smith admits that Leicester City’s players have been ‘demoralised’ by their recent results in the bid to secure Premier League survival.
The Foxes sit 19th in the table - but their relegation fate is still in their own hands with two matches to play. Everton are 17th and three points ahead of Leicester after a 1-1 draw at Wolves. Leeds United are two points adrift of the Toffees following their 3-1 loss to West Ham.
But the Foxes’ superior goal difference means that they can leapfrog Everton and Leeds should they earn a victory over Newcastle United this evening. It will be tall order for Smith’s side, having been beaten 5-3 by Fulham before comprehensively defeated 3-0 by Liverpool a week ago.
Smith, who took over from Brendan Rodgers as interim manager for the final eight games of the season, confessed the Foxes squad are ‘down’ because of their recent form.
He told the club website: “I think they are demoralised by the last couple of results. Before that, we had an upturn in performances. It’s very quickly forgotten but I’ve only been here for six games and I thought four of the performances in that were quite good.
“But the goals that we’ve given away in the last few games haven’t been good enough and that’s something that we’ve been working on. We made it difficult (for teams) when we came into the club and that’s what we have to do now - go back to that. Be hard to beat first and foremost but show our qualities when we get the ball.
“They are down because of the last two results and the position that we’re in. They do care. I see that from what they give every day in training and what they are giving in matches.
“The work ethic I see is there. The numbers that I get from my performance department prove to me that it’s there as well. The thing that’s missing at the moment is keeping clean sheets and making fewer mistakes in the defensive third.
“We’ve put on different training sessions to what we did last week. But that was pretty much to concentrate on ourselves and what we need to do. We’ve worked on some stuff this week about getting the basics right.
“We are in a position that we don’t want to be in and no one expected us to be in. Our job is to get out of it. My job hasn’t changed from eight games to two games. We’re still in the same position as we were.
“If you look at it realistically, it was going to be really difficult to get points from Manchester City and Liverpool, as most teams find during the season. We’ve played Liverpool when their tails have been up. But other games we would have expected to get points and that’s probably why the Fulham one has hurt us the most.”