TOM Newey has urged everyone to reserve judgement on Oxford United until the end of the season as they attempt to get back on track at Plymouth Argyle tomorrow.
It is the first time this season they will go into a game outside the top seven in Sky Bet League Two.
United have fallen out of the play-off places after picking up just five points from their last ten games and urgently need to stop the rot against a Plymouth side just one point behind and with promotion ambitions of their own.
The poor run has led to plenty of criticism, both from the terraces and the media, but Newey insists with their target still within reach, this is not the time for assessment.
The full back said: “The end of the season is the be-all and end-all.
“If we attain our objective, it doesn’t matter how we got there. If we don’t, then criticism will come and we’ll have to take it.
“But we’re confident we can still do enough to get over the line.”
United’s head coach Gary Waddock called for his side to be tougher mentally in the wake of last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Fleetwood Town.
Newey, who returned against the Cod Army after serving a three-game suspension, feels the squad should have no complaints about dropping out of the play-off positions and knows they are the only ones who can halt the slide.
The left back said: “Confidence is low – we’ve been under-performing for the last couple of months, but we’re all professionals, we get paid to do a job and we’re all grown men.
“We have to have big enough shoulders to take criticism when it comes.
“We have enough experience in the dressing room and we should be dealing with it better.
“No-one shies away from the fact that it’s up to us as players to put it right.”
United’s fate is still very much in their own hands and after facing Plymouth, in ninth, they host York City, who have leapfrogged them into the top seven.
Newey added: “I can’t see York and Plymouth getting maximum points.
“We haven’t won in a while, so if we can put a little run of three or four wins together, that will be enough.
“It’s a matter of doing it, words are easy to say and I’d rather do the talking on the pitch.”