BEN Davies admits Derby County have a “big game” against Leicester City this weekend as they attempt to shake off the relegation threat that has suddenly loomed over their shoulders.
At the start of last month, the Rams were ninth in the Championship, six points off the play-offs and 10 clear of the drop zone.
However, a winless run of eight games since then has seen them slip to 15th, and just six points now separates them from the bottom three, while the top six are almost out of sight.
Davies said: “You probably have to look at it when you’re stuck in mid-table.
“You’ve got to look over your shoulder and try and get a couple wins so you can relax a bit.
“In this league, you’re a couple of wins from being back in the play-off places and a couple of wins from being down at the bottom.”
Derby welcome their East Midlands rivals to Pride Park on Saturday, kick-off 5.20pm, with the Foxes also looking to end a poor run that has seen them pick up just one win in their last seven to drop from second to fifth in the table.
Derby have beaten the Foxes just once in the last seven-and-a-half years, with no win since March 2009, and Davies said: “The Leicester game is a big one for us now, we need to put a performance in and get a result.
“We’re due to beat them and hopefully it’ll turn on Saturday, although we don’t tend to worry about opposition.
“We know Leicester are a good team on their day, but we can beat anyone on the day, especially at home.
“We’ve got to concentrate on putting in a high-energy performance, cutting out mistakes, and hopefully we can get a result.
“When you haven’t won for a while you need that win just to ease things off.
“You tend to get a bit edgy when you don’t, but we need keep doing the things we’re doing, and be a bit more ruthless.”
Davies netted only his second league goal of the season on Saturday as Derby lost 3-1 at Birmingham City and he admitted it was a bittersweet day.
“It was nice to score but it’s a disappointing day all round,” said Davies.
“We needed a second goal to see it through and we’ve let them get back into it.
“We should have been out of sight by half-time and that’s what happens if you don’t take your chances.
“We need to be a bit more ruthless and clinical.”
The defeat at St Andrews marked the second game in a row in which Derby had failed to hold onto a lead, and the fifth without a clean sheet.
And it was especially galling for Davies, born less than five miles away from the ground.
He said: “On another we could have won the game two or three-nil, but we seem to be saying that too much at the moment.
“We need to tighten up and stop conceding goals and be more ruthless.
“It’s frustrating because we don’t feel like we’ve played badly
“I was born just down the road in Handsworth, and now I live in Walsall, but my family are still here and they’re Blues fans.
“I was a Villa fan so I’m sure I’ll be getting a few texts now.”
ACADEMY player Max Lowe has been called up for international duty with England under-16s for the second time.
The Young Lions contest the annual Montaigu Tournament in France later this month, playing a total of four games over six days.
YESTERDAY afternoon’s under-21 game away to Wigan Athletic was postponed due to a frozen pitch.