Tom Lees has challenged Sheffield Wednesday to find some consistency as they battle to keep up with the play-off pack.
The Owls go into tonight’s clash at third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic nine points shy of the top-six placings at the halfway stage of the Championship season.
Victory at the DW Stadium will move Stuart Gray’s side back into the top 10 of the table for the first time since October 4.
And Lees, who has been a pillar of strength at the heart of Wednesday’s rearguard this season, is urging the squad to build on their Boxing Day win against Blackpool.
The centre-back said: “If we win on Tuesday, that will put us firmly in the top half. It’s really tight. It can go both ways, whether you are looking up or down.
“If we win, we are six points off the play-offs. You can’t write anybody off. I’m sure there are teams below us who will be thinking they can get in the play-offs.
“It’s important you maintain that consistency. It’s no good going on a run of winning games and having a massive downfall like we have seen with a lot of teams this season. There is no one really who has taken the league by the scruff of the neck and run away with it.
“You’ve got to be consistent because if you go a few weeks without picking up points, you can be down there.
“It works the other way too. If we can string a few wins together, you can be right in the mix.”
Lees, who has made 24 starts since moving to Hillsborough last summer, is disappointed Wednesday have failed to pick up more points in December but claims the club should be more than satisfied with the progress they have made under Stuart Gray over the past year.
But he added: “January is a big month for us because we haven’t done as well as we would have liked in December.”
However, the 24-year-old is under no illusions at the threat Wigan will pose. Lees feels the 2013 FA Cup winners are “under-achieving” with the personnel and resources they possess.
“Wigan have got the potential to be a really good team,” he said.
“They’ve got a lot of experienced Premier League players so if they get it right they can be a real force.
“We need to get them under pressure again in front of their home crowd and stop them playing their nice football. If we do allow them, with the players they’ve got, to express themselves, they could be dangerous.”
Lees, who hopes Royston Drenthe and Lewis McGugan will extend their stays with the club, said: “We can see what it’s been like at Hillsborough when teams come and know we haven’t been winning at home. We know what Wigan will be feeling. They might be feeling a bit nervy.
“If we can stop them getting off to a good start and frustrate them, the more chance we have got of winning.”