Stewart Downing reveals what Middlesbrough must do to catch Leeds and Norwich
Stewart Downing believes his Middlesbrough teammates must be willing to stand up and be counted as they look to push towards the top two.
Recent results have seen Boro slip to 6th in the Championship - eight points behind second-placed Norwich and nine away from leaders Leeds - while Tuesday's Carabao Cup defeat to League One side Burton has heaped pressure on the squad.
And Downing is calling on the other experienced heads in the dressing room to stand up and lead the side out of the rocky patch.
He believes that during the upcoming festive period, which sees Boro play four times in ten days, the squad must stand up and be counted in order to defy the 'stick' coming their way.
“We have to keep working hard," he admitted.
"There is no point sulking, that is not going to help.
“We have got a lot of experienced players in the dressing room, and they will have to stand up and help the young lads through.
“We are in a time when ‘stick’ will be thrown and blame; whatever it is, and you have to come through that. It happens.
“When confidence is down and you are getting a bit of stick from the fans, that’s when you have to stand up."
Tony Pulis' side face fixtures against Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich and Derby in the coming weeks, and Downing knows results will be vital in these fixtures if Boro are to sustain their promotion hopes.
And while the ex-Liverpool winger views them as winnable games, he knows nothing can be taken for granted.
He added: “This [the Burton loss] is a big blow for us because we were expected to win, but we have not got time to dwell on it because we have four games in a really short space of time now.
“We need to bounce back as quickly as possible because we need some big results.
"We are looking at winnable games, but Tuesday was a winnable game and we lost.
“We need to be winning games because, if we want to be promoted, then we have to start winning again.”