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Apr, 8, 2013

Begovic urges Stoke to fight

Asmir Begovic admits Stoke are in a dogfight to survive in the Premier League and says they now need their famous fighting spirit more than ever.

• Blog: Car crash football
• Pulis confident of Stoke survival

The highly-rated goalkeeper had the misfortune of being beaten by one of the goals of the season in Saturday's defeat at home to Aston Villa but he refuses to give up on the renowned Britannia Stadium atmosphere - although it was again punctured by booing at the weekend.

"If we win the next three games at home, we'll have the fortress back and everyone will be on top of their toes," he said. "That's the way it is. That's human nature.

"People always panic and look to the worst. But in the dressing room and most importantly in the manager, we've got good characters - guys who are going to stand up and fight no matter what happens. Hopefully that'll work out in our favour but it's a tough league.

"We were world-beaters at Christmas. Now we're getting scored on by top-corner screamers, penalties, this-way-or-that-way decisions. It's unbelievable the kind of run we're on. But we have to believe it.

"We have to get back to work, keep trying to do the right things, stand up and fight together."

Stoke reached the relative security of 33 points as early as the second weekend of February but have taken a solitary point since and have won only once in their last 13 league games.

Manchester United are next up in the Potteries on Sunday but subsequent games against QPR, Sunderland, Norwich and Southampton still offer hope.

"The league table doesn't look too healthy," Begovic added. "We realise we're in a dogfight. We've been in this position before, the club has been here before, but hopefully the spirit of the club will take us through.

"The support can get behind us and we can pull through together. It's going to be difficult. We've got six tough games left and nothing is going to be given to us, that's for sure.

"Time will tell whether one more win will do it for us. We're setting our sights high, looking at 40 points and beyond and make sure of ourselves.

"We've got a couple of teams around us to play, which helps, and they'll be massive games, like this one was. This was a big blow but we have to keep going."

Of the Lowton goal, the keeper said: "It came at a terrible time for us because I thought we were on top of the game and probably going on to win it.

"We were putting them on the back foot and that goal relieved them of all sorts of pressure. You can't defend against that. We cleared the first ball and it's a fantastic strike, a fantastic bit of skill. That's the way things are going at the moment. Everything kind of piles on.

"It's definitely up there with the best goals I've conceded. It's on the shortlist. There are a couple of other screamers in the top corner but this is definitely in the top three."

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