Ryan Dickson has called on his Crawley Town team-mates to roll up their sleeves and win ugly away at Leyton Orient on Boxing Day.
The defender made his return from a hernia operation as Reds suffered a 2-1 home defeat against Port Vale on Saturday.
That loss left John Gregory’s side without a win in seven in League One and one place above the drop zone.
Dickson admitted Crawley are now in a relegation dog fight and believes, despite struggling to explain why their hosts are struggling themselves, the post-Christmas trip to Orient on Friday is must win.
He said: “They have got a massive budget. A huge budget for this league and some very good players. I just can’t understand it for the life of me.
“Obviously, there are politics sometimes at football clubs, but for different reasons they are down there from what we are.
“These are games that we have to roll our sleeves as we are in it (a relegation battle) and we have to win games. We need to roll our sleeves up and grind out results like we were at the start of the season.
“One win would have chucked us up that table, but things change and I doubt it’s like that now. We need to make a gap and by doing that we need to win ugly.
“They had a very good gaffer there in Russell Slade, different owners and a big turn around, has obviously turned the club upside down a little bit which isn’t nice to see as it was a very well run football club.
“I think for the budget they have got they should never be down where they are, but that’s football.”
The left-back has said there is no time for Reds to feel sorry for themselves and must help each other in their bid to climb out of trouble.
“You’ve got no choice as a footballer, it’s up to you to be mentally strong and get on with it,” he added.
“You’re going to win, you’re going to loss, it’s only up to you and you’re the only person that can get out of the mess.
“When we were drawing we were unbeaten, but now it turns into whatever and obviously you haven’t won.
“It’s tough. I will try my best and I think the boys will try their best every game, but maybe we haven’t been from the start of games.
“The boys get on well. When you have a small squad it’s the way it is. We are a tight-knit group, but maybe we do need to dig each other out a bit more because some of the performances at the start of games haven’t been to the standard that we would have liked.”