Steve Bruce, the Sheffield Wednesday boss, is adamant the Owls are still capable of securing a Championship play-off place.
Wednesday lost more ground in the promotion race after Saturday's goalless draw with lowly Reading in Bruce's first home match in charge. Bruce's men squandered a host of opportunities either side of half-time to wrap up a third straight league win.
But the stalemate leaves the 16th-placed Owls 11 points adrift of sixth-placed Bristol City with 16 matches remaining.
Bruce, who confirmed skipper Tom Lees missed out because of a "freak" injury that he sustained to his shin in training on Friday afternoon, told The Star: "I always knew the top-six would be difficult but we can't give up hope.
"Another couple of wins then who knows. We are not going to give up hope on it but it was always a daunting prospect.
"But let's be fair, the team were looking the other way a few weeks ago rather than looking up which is difficult for a club likes ours.
"We will keep trying."
Jordan Thorniley replaced Lees at centre-half, with Barry Bannan wearing the captain's armband. The young defender acquitted himself well as the Owls racked up a seventh clean sheet in their last 11 outings.
“He did very very well," said Bruce, a centre-back during his playing days."I was really pleased for the kid.
“Defensively we looked rock solid and that’s the big positive for me of course being a defender.
“Of course the supporters want to see goals and I understand that but I think they understand we were in a bit of a mess so to keep a clean sheet gives you a platform in my opinion for success."
Bruce also praised Keiren Westwood's contribution. The goalkeeper pulled off a series off excellent stops to frustrate Reading.
Bruce said: "He has done a good job since coming back in. He is an experienced goalkeeper and has got a calmness about him which reflects very, very well on the back four.
"He did very well again and I'm delighted with him."