Nottingham Forest manager Mark Warburton believes his side’s mental strength can play a big part in helping to secure The Reds’ Championship status.
Forest take on Reading at The City Ground on Saturday and Warburton feels his side has the quality and the mental toughness to be able to pull clear and avoid relegation.
He said: “The six inches between the ears are the most important part right now - the belief, the confidence and dealing with the situation. It is about focusing on what you do well and making sure you train well and prepare well. If you are up against the wall it is about how you deal with it, how you cope with it and how you respond.
“We have three critical games left; we were disappointed to leave Cardiff following what we thought was a really positive display, but that is the nature of the game. We are well aware of the significance of Reading, they come here in a great position and will be a tough challenge but we have shown our quality this season and we will show it again on Saturday.
“We are creating chances but it is hitting the bar or the keeper is making a great save. That is the nature of the game but we have to keep doing the right things and the rewards will come. It is in our hands, there are three big games coming. I am being told we have a tough run-in but they are all tough games. Our focus is on us, we look forward to Saturday and the challenge.
“Reading are where they are in the table, the table doesn’t lie. They have had a tremendous season so far and Jaap and his staff have done a great job and it will be a stern challenge.”
Warburton has been pleased with the displays of the younger players in the squad who he says have been fearless, but they need to continue to show that to help prevent relegation.
He said: “Sometimes the young players play with no fear and I have been delighted with the level of performances. I thought Joe Worrall was outstanding at Cardiff, you look at Ben Brereton, Ben Osborn, Matty Cash and Zach Clough who has come in; these are young guys who are hugely talented with big futures at the club but this is a great part of the learning curve.
“They have got to stand up now and they have played without any fear so far and I have loved that aspect. We talk about the academy producing players with the technical attributes but also the mental strength to come in and deal with Championship football.
“Relegation would be a huge blow for any club. No player, manager or staff member wants it on their CV. This is a tremendous club with a lot of serious plans going forward and we need to maintain our status and build from there.”
Warburton has called on the fans to get behind the team, as they have done so brilliantly, but says The Reds need to give them something to cheer about.
He said: “The backing we have received has been fantastic. You saw at Cardiff on Monday the support was tremendous and the backing we received throughout the 90 minutes was tremendous. Hopefully they saw a Forest side totally committed, and that relationship between the playing squad and the fans is so important. The fans need to enjoy watching their team play and get value for money and I hope we can ensure they enjoy their football.”