Crystal Palace’s Damien Delaney believes their 2-1 defeat by Swansea on Tuesday has demonstrated how much they are at risk of relegation.
It was widely felt that the recent appointment of Sam Allardyce, a manager who has never been relegated from the Premier League, combined with the several quality players Palace possess would ensure they would climb clear of the bottom three.
On Tuesday, however, in a match Allardyce insisted was crucial to their hopes of survival, they were poor and were booed off at half-time.
Delaney believes the time has passed for 17th-placed Palace to think their collective talent means they will not be involved in the fight for survival, and has demanded his team-mates accept the reality.
“If anyone thought they were not in a scrap, they know now,” said the 35-year-old. “It is all good saying ‘We are too good and we are this and that’.
“We are right in the middle of it now and it is time to stand up and be counted. People say the quality we have but we are way, way, way below where we should be. We cannot make any excuses anymore. We are in a relegation scrap for the long haul, so it is time to saddle up.
“He (Allardyce) has got a track record but we cannot rely on that. It is going to take hard work.
“It is the first time in five seasons I have been here that the fans have turned like that. They were within their rights to complain but in the second half they got behind us. It is important we keep them onside because this is going to be a long road.
“We are in a scrap now. The way to get out of it is by sticking together, digging in and working hard. Hopefully the manager can get us on the right course. We have a long stretch and a lot to work on.”