Things can't get any worse says Dons skipper Lewington

Dean Lewington
Dean Lewington

Dean Lewington says Dons need to forget the threat of relegation and play with freedom in order to get out of League 1's bottom four.

Without a league win in 2018, Dons are six points from safety with 11 games remaining. But sitting 22nd, Lewington says the worst has already happened and the team needs to play with a freedom, and without pressure, to turn their season around before it is too late.

Lewington battles with Charlton's Ben Reeves

Lewington battles with Charlton's Ben Reeves

"We are where we are - the worst has happened," he said. "It can't get any worse than this, the only way is up from here.

"We have to free ourselves from that, so we just give it our all and play like it doesn't matter. It's not like we can drop into the relegation zone - we're already in it. It's case of going out there, freeing ourselves from the shackles and playing with the freedom you need to be successful.

"We look at the table - we're not ignorant. It's life changing for people, it's massive and that brings it's own pressure. It can paralyse some people and they can really struggle. What we've seen a lot of is fragile confidence - one mistake and people can cave. It's really hard because it's so fragile."

And Dons' fragile confidence was hardly helped when Ellis Harrison's wayward cross sailed over Lee Nicholls last Saturday, handing Dons yet another defeat as they went down 1-0 to Bristol Rovers last Saturday.

Lewington in action

Lewington in action

Lewington continued: "When you're down there, these things go against you. We don't want a victim mentality. While it was unlucky, we needed to look at how they got it in the first place. The gaffer has tried to stop the 'poor us' feelings, because there are things we can stop doing to prevent these mistakes."

Having suffered three relegations during his career, Lewington said the current camp reminded him of the 2004/05 season, where Dons miraculously stayed up by the skin of their teeth thanks to a Gareth Edds winner against Tranmere Rovers on the last day of the season.

He said: "It reminds me of the Gareth Edds, Danny Wilson era. In the Championship, the injuries and confidence felt like a dead fish in the last month. There is still fight, and we're still trying to improve here. We keep saying we have good players, but there are players in there we expect more of.

"At the start of the season, people looked at us as a half decent team and we shouldn't deviate from that. There's still something in there we can get out of people.

"Some people are naturally confident and do their thing, but some show a little chance or act a bit different so you rally around them or get them in touch with the right people. We have a lot of good people here, there have been a lot of individual meetings, showing them their best bits to show they're not a million miles away. Sometimes you can feel way off but really it's just a few yards here or there."