Preston Athletic captain Dave McLeod says manager Craig Nisbet is fully justified in his scathing criticism of his players in recent weeks.
The Panners prop up the Lowland League table having won just two games so far this term and are two points adrift of fellow strugglers Selkirk with third-bottom Gala Fairydean Rovers a further seven points in the clear.
The East Lothain men have shipped 56 goals in 16 league matches – last month’s 6-2 and 8-3 defeats by East Stirlingshire and BSC Glasgow respectively prompting Nisbet into something of a tirade.
Ahead of tomorrow’s home encounter with Hawick Royal Albert, McLeod said: “The truth needs to be told and I think everyone in the team understands that. The manager is perfectly within his rights to say what he feels and that has been put across in the dressing room.
“At the end of the day, the standard that we’re playing at these things need to be said. We’re big enough and ugly enough to take it on the chin. As individuals we need to look at our own performances and I think the majority of the guys are underperforming at the moment.
“I think everybody has had the chance lately to put their opinions across. We’ve not really had a consistent squad which hasn’t helped. But, in saying that, individual performances haven’t been up to scratch and collectively as a team.
“The manager has been hitting home about the threat of relegation so it’s definitely something at the back of our minds. It’s not acceptable and isn’t where the club should be.
“Craig is doing everything he can to get us out of the rut we’ve been in and he’s been pretty blunt in the fact that there will be new faces coming in to try and improve things.
“We need to turn the corner before the end of the year. We’ve got three matches starting with tomorrow so we need to be picking up the points that will see us off the bottom of the table.”
With Borders outfit Hawick also locked on 16 points and just above Gala on the virtue of goal difference, defender McLeod accepts they won’t get a better opportunity at the Pennypit tomorrow to start closing the gap. “I really feel it’s a must-win game for us having had such a poor start to the season,” the 30-year-old explained. “Having had a free week last weekend I hope that will have helped coming off the back of two heavy defeats to East Stirlingshire and BSC.
“We should be beating teams like Hawick. As captain I do feel more responsible for the performances we’re putting in on the park and in training.
“Craig puts his heart and soul into the club so it’s about time we started to give him something back by picking up some points.
“Hopefully a win tomorrow will give everybody a lift and if results go our way then we might just find ourselves off the bottom of the table.”
Elsewhere, Edinburgh University will hope to bridge the gap between themselves and opponents Gala when the duo meet at Netherdale.
The students are one of three teams level on 16 points but a win in the Borders would ease their own relegation fears.
The Uni were knocked out of the Football Nation Qualifying Cup by league leaders East Kilbride on Wednesday night having conceded a last-minute goal to bow out of the competition 3-2.
Meanwhile, fourth-placed Spartans travel to former Hibs striker Garry O’Connor’s Selkirk whilst Whitehill Welfare face the unenviable task of attempting to become the first side to take any points off East Kilbride at K-Park this season.
Civil Service Strollers are at Ochilview to play the league’s highest scoring side in East Stirlingshire.
Last season’s demoted SPFL League Two side put ten past Gala six days ago so manager Alex Cunningham is only too aware of the threat they pose.