PREVIEW: Bristol City vs Hull City
LOUIS Carey no doubt speaks for his team-mates when he says Bristol City's frustration knows no bounds right now.
Early-season optimism has all but evaporated in the face of the inept defending that is threatening to undermine the considerable progress made since the end of last season.
As if losing a two-goal lead at Bolton last weekend was not bad enough, the Robins suffered further disappointment when conceding in the fifth minute of added time to throw away a point at home to Burnley on Tuesday.
Six games without a win have deposited City in the lower reaches of the Championship table and created unwanted pressure ahead of tomorrow's Sky-televised home clash against Hull.
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Although the league table does not lie, the experienced Carey feels City ought to be far better-placed in the English second tier.
He told The Post: "It is really hard to explain, but we all feel we should be much higher in the table.
"If you watch us train, you will see that it is excellent. There is great ability from the lads and a real tempo. The whole package and the sessions the Doc (assistant manager Tony Docherty) and the gaffer (Derek McInnes) put on are top quality.
"We have seen it in spells in games, but we are still waiting for that to kick in properly.
"In the games where we did it for 90 minutes, we got the results we wanted and, because of that, we are not nervous about where we are in the table."
But Carey knows that, until City stop the rot and return to winning ways, his words will sound a touch hollow. Perhaps more than anyone at Ashton Gate, he recognises the need to put up or shut up.
Looking ahead to the visit of Steve Bruce's Hull, he said: "We have to show a lot of fight and show people that we do not like being where we are at the moment.
"At the end of the day, the table does not lie and we need to prove we have the quality to be up where we want to be.
"We said when we beat Cardiff and Crystal Palace in the space of a week that the important thing was to keep it going. Unfortunately, the international break came at a bad time for us and we could not keep the run going.
"Since then, we have played well in a lot of games, even though the end result has sometimes made us look poor.
"We know we have a lot going for us as a team and I'm sure, if we get that next win, we will not be sucked into the bottom three."
Yet any revival will be dependent upon Carey and his team-mates finding a way to keep clean sheets, something that has eluded City so far this season.
He admitted: "If you keep conceding the number of goals we have been conceding, then defenders can expect to be criticised.
"We are the ones who generally get the stick and we've all had to take it on the chin.
"But it is not enough to single out individuals – we know it is down to us all to defend as a team and keep the ball out of our net.
"You have to look at where people are coming from on the pitch and how teams are managing to get balls into our penalty area.
"To a large extent, I think it is a problem of communication. We need to be better at passing people on and helping one another out all over the pitch. If someone makes a mistake, then we need one of the other lads to back him up and cover. It's a team game and we must work together to try and keep clean sheets."