CAMERON JEROME admits the disappointing nature of 2013 has hurt the pride of the Stoke City squad but is confident they have what it takes to return to winning ways this weekend.
The Potters have claimed just six points since Boxing Day and go into tomorrow's home date with Aston Villa just four points above the Premier League drop zone.
Tony Pulis' men suffered their latest setback at Everton last weekend, despite producing a highly encouraging display.
And although Jerome acknowledges that the recent run of results has dented confidence among the squad, he insists they can take heart from their display at Goodison Park as they head into the meeting with Villa.
He revealed: "If you lose any game, then you feel low, but you pick yourselves up and go again the next weekend. For us, this run has gone on for too long now, and picking up just six points, as you say, is embarrassing really and hurts our pride as professionals.
"There have been a few games in that run where you reflect on it afterwards and wonder just how you managed to lose it.
"The last two away games are a prime example of that. I don't think we were second best at Everton, and we lost that game.
"We had chances to go ahead, and had chances to equalise, so to come away from there with nothing to show for our efforts, having been arguably the better team is frustrating. It was the same at Newcastle a few weeks earlier.
"We were 1-0 up and never really looked in danger of conceding. We gave a poor goal away and then they killed us at the death with a late goal. We have been our own worst victims at times, by conceding sloppy goals, missing good opportunities and just losing that bit of concentration at crucial times.
"That is unlike us because we are usually tight and resilient, but as I said earlier, you go through times like this, and the important thing is bouncing back from it."
Jerome has started Stoke's last four games and will be hoping to play a prominent role in the crunch clash with Villa.
"It's disappointing to be losing games, but from a personal perspective, it is nice to be involved, and to be starting games regularly," he added.
"All I can do is keep doing what I have been doing, keep working hard, and then, hopefully, the manager will keep the faith with me, and keep playing me."
Jerome was speaking inside the forthcoming edition of Potters Matchday Magazine, which will be on sale prior to kick-off on Saturday, priced at just £3.50.
The 100-page perfect-bound publication is packed full of interviews and features with all of your favourite City stars, including Steven Nzonzi (Socially Speaking) and former Villa goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen (Getting To Know).
Memories of Stoke's win over Aston Villa in their first home game back in the Premier League in 2008 are revived in the Main Event feature.
Tony Pulis delivers his pre-match thoughts in his exclusive column, while Chief Executive Tony Scholes, skipper Ryan Shawcross, Nigel 'The Voice' Johnson, and fans-favourite Mickey Thomas offer their thoughts.
Make sure you pick up a copy ahead of the BIG game from one of the many distributors situated around the stadium or online by clicking HERE.