John Heitinga admits keeping Fulham in the Barclays Premier League would feel like winning a trophy.
The Dutchman, a January transfer signing from Everton, played the full 90 minutes as Fulham went down to a 3-1 defeat at fellow strugglers Cardiff City on Saturday to remain at the foot of the table.
With 27 points to play for, Heitinga insists all is not lost but knows Fulham need a quick turnaround in fortunes if they are to survive.
“There are still nine games to go and 27 points to fight for,” he said. “Unfortunately we weren’t good enough against Cardiff. We started really well. We didn’t create big chances but we were the better team in the opening minutes.
“The game was a bit nervous from both sides and they scored a goal before half-time. We scored the equaliser but then gave two goals away.
“We will take a look at what happened during the game and take the best parts out of it. We need to change something and it needs to be quick.
“You don’t want to be in this situation, but we are, so we need to handle it in a good way. Cardiff was not our best performance so we need to be positive and fight at the weekend.”
Heitinga’s fellow January arrival, Kostas Mitroglou, was handed his first start for the Whites at the Cardiff City Stadium and the Dutchman hopes his Greek teammate can play a key role for Fulham between now and 11th May.
“It was his first start for Fulham and hopefully he can score some goals,” said Heitinga. “He’s used to playing for Champions League spots and titles and this is the opposite now. To stay in the league for us would be like winning a trophy.”
Fulham take on Newcastle United at the Cottage on Saturday and Heitinga admitted only three points will do for the home side.
“It is a must-win game but it was the same against Cardiff,” he mused. “The only thing that matters now is points, it doesn’t matter how we get them. Fulham is a club full of history and we will try everything to stay in the league. The Premier League is the best in the world and everyone wants to play in it.