Steve Cooper is not surprised Nottingham Forest are fighting for Premier League survival but he insisted there is a belief they can avoid relegation despite a dismal run of form.
Cooper led Forest to the top flight for the first time in 23 years last season, where the Midlands side spent 46 of the first 52 days in the Championship drop zone but gained promotion via the play-offs.
Despite a squad overhaul last summer, Forest have struggled in this campaign and go into Wednesday’s clash against Brighton aiming to end an 11-match winless streak that has left them 19th in the table.
While Cooper admitted his side were always likely to be up against it, he feels a battling display in a 3-2 loss at Liverpool at the weekend proved there is still confidence they can save themselves.
“We were always likely to be playing for something like this at the end of the season,” he said. “We are playing catch-up a little bit, there is no doubt about that.
“You don’t want to speak too positively after a defeat and you never should, particularly on the run we’re on. But to go to Anfield and cause problems for Liverpool shows there is a belief in the team and a commitment to doing well. We never gave up in the game and kept going until the end.
“We could easily have got something from the weekend and games where for sure we should have done better. It reassures you that if you get things right for a game then we can win any game.
“We’ve got to keep believing in that. We’ve got to keep going, of course we need to do better – there’s loads of things we need to do better – but unless we believe that we can improve, we have no chance.”
Forest’s recent woes have been compounded by injuries, with Scott McKenna joining an expanding list because of a fractured collarbone that will sideline the defender for the last six games of the season.
They welcome a Seagulls side who are chasing a spot in Europe next term but who are smarting after their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United ended in an agonising penalty shootout defeat.
“We’re all aware of our situation and the challenge continues, there’s no doubt about that,” Cooper added.
“We’re speaking very openly about the present situation and we know the run is far from what we want it to be. We have to take responsibility for that and always look to try and change things around.
“We’ve got to keep looking forward, we’ve got to keep doing whatever it takes on a day-by-day basis to be at our best in the next games.
“There are still six games to play and we’re right in and amongst a group who are in a similar situation. Things can change quickly but we’ve got to make sure we make that happen.”