KEITH SOUTHERN has had some interrupted nights this week – and it’s not just because of new arrival Anton.
The father of two and Town midfielder was deeply hurt by the 6-1 setback at Leicester on New Year’s Day, especially as he skippered the side in place of dropped defender Peter Clarke.
It stretched Town’s winless Championship run to 10 games and left them 17th in the table – eight points off the play-off places they occupied two months ago and seven above the relegation zone.
Southern accepts Town, in FA Cup third-round action at Championship rivals Charlton this afternoon, are at a crucial stage of the season.
They are back in league action at home to Birmingham a week today, when Lee Clark returns to Huddersfield for the first time since his sacking by Town last February.
Then it’s down to Watford on Saturday 19 before the Hornets’ fellow promotion chasers Crystal Palace come to West Yorkshire on Saturday 26 – FA Cup commitments for both Town and the South Londoners permitting since it’s the date of the fourth round (Palace are at home to Stoke in round three today).
“It’s a vital spell for us, and we have to come out fighting after the Leicester game,” admitted the 31-year-old close-season signing from Championship rivals Blackpool who hopes to beat an ankle injury to play at The Valley.
“Things can go either way depending on how we respond to what was a very bad day for the club.
“It was an awful defeat, and you have to admit it could have been by even more goals, because we were very poor.
“If we keep playing the way we did at Leicester, we will be relegated – simple as that.
“I certainly didn’t sleep too well for a few nights afterwards, and you can tell by the subdued mood around the place that all the lads were hurting.
“It’s not about feeling sorry for yourself, it’s about having pride as a professional and as a person, and we certainly let ourselves and the club down.
“You can dissect the performance and pick the bones out of it, and we certainly did that on Wednesday, when we were all in first thing to review the game on DVD and thrash out what went wrong and what we’re going to do about it.
“Some harsh words were said, but they had to be, and we need to respond where it matters – out there on the pitch.
“Having been pushing for promotion from League I over the last three or four years, this club hasn’t been used to long runs without a win.
“We’ve had injures and suspensions, there have been games where things haven’t run for us, and it’s been a busy spell, but all clubs can say the same thing.
“We’ve been in one of those spells where we can’t buy a win and confidence has been hit, but we still have quality and it’s down to us as players to change the way things have been going.
“We need to show spirit and passion and we need to work very hard, because we are only one win away from going on a good run.
“We need to win a game by hook or by crook and we have a great opportunity today.”