Sam Vokes is ready to embrace the six-pointers as he fights to keep Stoke City in the Championship.
The 30-year-old striker scored on his return to the starting XI at Luton last weekend and is in pole position to lead the line in a crunch home match against Hull on Saturday.
Win and Stoke will leapfrog Hull and could climb as high as 17th – but lose and the gap between the two clubs will be five points and the pressure and panic will be ramped up. Clashes with Reading, Middlesbrough, Wigan and Barnsley follow.
“There’s a lot of football to be played,” said Vokes. “We know how strong we can be and how good we can perform on the day and we’ve got all the teams around us to play. There are some big games coming up and it’s in our hands because we’ve got those games.
“Hull is another big one for us at home – and it’s a game we’re looking forward to.
“We look at them and think we can catch them, they have to come to us and I’m sure the crowd will be behind us. We’ve had great support and this weekend the crowd is going to be very important again at home.”
Vokes now has seven goals for the season while Tyrese Campbell has six since breaking into the first team and Lee Gregory has four.
But he knows he will need to keep making an impact to stay at the top of Michael O’Neill’s pecking order.
“I felt good at Luton,” he said. “Coming in and out of the team it’s important for me to put those performances in and, as a striker, get goals when you can.”
He added: “Of course you want to be playing football and that was a big reason for me moving here but we’ve got a strong squad and there’s a lot of competition. It’s important when you get a chance you take it really.
“Tyrese is a great player and has great potential. You’ve seen with his performances and goals he has scored that he’s important for us.”
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Vokes has won promotion from this division with Wolves and Burnley, twice – and was hoping to challenge for another when he moved to the Potteries in January last year.
But there is only one priority with 10 matches remaining and that’s making sure Stoke are in the Championship next season.
He said: “A big reason for me joining Stoke was to compete at the other end of the table and I’m sure it was the same for a lot of the lads.
“But this season for one reason or another hasn’t gone our way but it’s important we fight to the death because we’ve got a lot of big games left to play. It’s important we survive.
“I don’t get too lost with the league table. It’s important you can one eye on it but it’s more important we focus on our jobs, doing that properly and getting ready for the next game coming up.”
It is a nail-biting time of the season Vokes insists there is no trepidation among the players.
“Not at all,” he said. “There’s a belief in the dressing room, we believe in ourselves.
“It’s been a tough season but we know we have the strength in our dressing room to get out of it.”