CHARLIE ADAM pulled no punches in the wake of Stoke City's disappointing 3-1 defeat against Aston Villa on Saturday . . . by stressing that he and his team-mates have to show the character to win a battle for Barclays Premier League survival now.
The Scottish international midfielder, who was instrumental in a City fightback before they were stung by two late goals from Villa, admitted that they are right in the thick of the relegation battle following a disappointing run since the turn of the year.
The outcome of the Villa match means that the Potters are now sitting uncomfortably close to the relegation zone with six games of the season remaining.
"We are in a real relegation scrap now, and we all have to sit down and understand that," the former Liverpool and Blackpool midfielder told stokecityfc.com.
"It's now all about character, and we have to show the togetherness that we have, and we have to let our quality show out on the pitch.
"We have to step up to the mark now, because we have just six games to go. There isn't time for us to wait and hope things happen, we have to go out and get the points we need."
He added: "It is worrying, but we won't talk about relegation. We are an established Premier League team and we are still looking upwards. We need to get points on the board though, there is no doubt about that."
Adam looked to have reinvigorated the side when Tony Pulis thrust him into the action midway through the second half, but after playing a key role in Michael Kightly's leveller, he could only stand and watch as Villa defender Matthew Lowton rifled home a thunderous, and decisive goal, for the visitors in the 87th minute.
"I think the goal that the lad scored was an absolutely unbelievable strike, and you can't take that away from him," he added.
"It hurt us, and in many ways it killed the game off for us. We maybe got crossed minds whether we should go for it, or take the point that we had at that point, and that was probably a mistake, and in the end you could say we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit.
"It's tough times at the moment because the results are undeniably poor, but we will move on, and we will look forward to the game against Manchester United next Sunday; it's a massive game for us now."