Charlie Adam accepts that Stoke are now facing a relegation battle after the Potters suffered their fifth defeat in six games against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Despite equalising in the 80th minute, Stoke conceded a brace of late goals at the Britannia Stadium which leaves them just three points above the relegation zone.
The midfielder said: "We are in a relegation fight and now it is about character.
"We will see how good the character in the group is. It has got to be in question now and we have got to step up to the mark.
"We need hard work. If you don't work hard you are going to be sucked into it. We are in it.
"It is a relegation fight and we need to pick ourselves up for next week.
"There are no easy games in this league and there are none bigger than Manchester United next Sunday.
"We are at home and if we could gradually get confidence going into the game, then fine, but it is going to be a tough match for us."