Livingston boss Mark Burchill believes his side are capable of winning every game between now and the end of the season and preserve the club’s Championship status for next season.
The Lions head into tomorrow’s clash at the Falkirk Stadium three points adrift of Barry Smith’s Alloa Athletic side in ninth and six points behind Cowdenbeath, who currently lie just above the relegation zone in eighth.
But despite Livi sitting at the foot of the division, a position they have occupied since the 1-0 defeat to the Blue Brazil towards the end of November, Burchill insists his players are more than equipped to emerge with three points from all of their remaining fixtures.
“There are 36 points to play for so there are no games between now and the end of the season where we will be expecting anything less than a win,” Burchill stressed to the Evening News.
“I think the players have got to take real belief from the two matches against Hearts because I don’t think anyone has run them as close as we did.
“The thing we need to make sure of is the level of concentration and effort is the same we showed against Hearts and that we stick to the game plan.
“I’m not going to panic or get worried about the position we are in whatsoever. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again that we’ve got 12 games to catch three points so there’s no need to panic. If we had two games left to catch with three points to make up then yes, I would be a bit edgy.”
Despite the former Celtic and Hearts striker managing just a solitary win since taking over from John McGlynn in December, a 5-1 rout of Dumbarton at the Bet Butler Stadium last month, Livi have been far more competitive than their points return suggests.
Running league leaders Hearts close twice only to lose by the odd goal on both occasions does not reflect a side that have managed just four wins in the league all season and for that Burchill, himself, must draw credit for the impetus and belief he has instilled in his players going forward.
“Everyone knows I’ve been a striker my whole career and I like people to go and express themselves,” he said. “You want your players to play with no fear. When you’ve got guys playing who are scared to make that pass or they go into their shell almost, it becomes an arduous task.
“I am just trying to make sure they’ve got the confidence to go and create chances and cause problems for the opposing team.
“There has been a lot made of possession football and I think Livingston maybe got a wee bit lost at the start of the season at times, thinking that possession football was enough to win football matches, but it’s not. You need to create chances, get your shots on goal and, ultimately, score, so that’s what I am trying to implement every day in training and in the games.”
Tomorrow’s opponents Falkirk aren’t likely to view Livi’s current predicament lightly, with the Bairns themselves currently embroiled in a four-way tussle with Queen of the South, Rangers and Hibs for the three end-of-season play-off spots that remain up for grabs.
“Falkirk are a good team with a lot of players that are proven at this level,” Burchill said. “They’re very well organised under Peter Houston, but I wouldn’t expect anything else other than good organisation.
“They will be a difficult nut to crack on their home pitch where they’ve got a decent record there. The 3G suits us, though, as we train on a similar surface every day so we’ll be looking to get the ball down and pass it.”
Captain Jason Talbot, midfielder Nejc Praprotnik and the versatile Kyle Jacobs will all miss tomorrow’s clash due to suspension.
“Kyle will be a big miss for us as he’s been fantastic. He’s a very good player and a leader but it gives someone else the opportunity and that’s what happens in football. But the guys that come in will need to prove that they’re good enough to stay in the team,” added Burchill.