Aston Villa captain Ron Vlaar admits he is wary of being dragged into a relegation scrap if his side falter in the remaining 12 matches of the Premier League season.
Despite sitting in 12th, the Villans are just four points off the bottom three after just one win in their six league matches, with an embarrassing early FA Cup exit at the hands of League One side Sheffield United sandwiched in between.
After a host of summer arrivals, the pressure is on boss Paul Lambert to turn things around, and Vlaar admits the players are feeling the heat too.
"It will stay really close together for a few weeks," Vlaar told the Birmingham Mail.
"You see that anybody can beat anybody else. We have to make sure we don't really get in trouble and go below the relegation line.
"I've said before I think we shouldn't be in trouble this year but we have to get results and we have to show every game what we are capable of because otherwise we can get dragged into it."
Despite the Villa faithful getting on the team's back after another disappointing campaign, Vlaar admits there is a determination within the squad to improve their predicament.
"We don't really talk about relegation. We know we need points and that's what we go for every game. We know we must play as a team and work really hard," Vlaar added.
"We just go from one game to another. The next game is Newcastle away. It's a difficult to match, but I think we have the qualities to win against any team. We showed that earlier in the season."